Lisa is a single mum to Kasha, aged 15 and to 5-year-old Hari. Lisa and her partner, Jane, separated 10 months ago and Kasha lives in a flat with Jane, 2 miles from Lisa and Hari, visiting regularly. Lisa came for therapy concerned about Kasha’s volatile and unpredictable behaviour and the effect of this on both her and on Hari. Lisa and Kasha had been working at improving their relationship but Lisa came to her therapy session this week with a story to tell about events at home and her responses to them, which she agreed could be shared as a way of potentially helping others in a similar position.
There has been an increase in childhood anxieties and the paralysing effects it has had on our children and young people’s transition towards independence as well as the experiences of loss and being trapped by siblings and parents. Outside witnesses such as school, neighbours, family, and friends watch on not being able to know how to help. It is because of this increasing phenomenon that the SPACE training was organised and hosted by PartnershipProjects and indeed the sellout of all places on the training was indicative of the need and demand for practitioners and parents alike.
‘The wisdom of presence and NVR – building bridges in uncertain times’
With contributions from Jill Lubienski, Julie Oates, Jackie Lindeck and Rosalind McCormick
The 7th International NVR Conference was the first opportunity since 2018 for the worldwide NVR community to congregate in person and, over 3 days, to share the personal connection, the vibrancy of our ideas and also our worries for the very difficult problems facing us in a world where conflict, war and division are so prevalent. Around 300 delegates and speakers arrived in Osnabruck from the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Ukraine, Russia, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. We also benefited from the technology available to Osnabruck University of Applied Sciences to offer the conference in a ‘hybrid’ form, and so were joined for keynote presentations and some workshops, by colleagues online from all over the world. A truly international gathering of people concerned to think about peaceful, caring, connecting dialogue and practices, even when alliance building may seem like an insurmountable task.
Every year without fail my uncle sends packages of mangoes from our farm in a rural village in India and with anticipation, we look forward to enjoying their juicy delights as part of a family ritual. There is a tradition to how they are eaten and passed down through the generations. The maternal head of the household- usually the mother slices them all, arranged on a plate, and is the one that eats the middle pulp section- is often seen as the least favourable but is often secretly the most delicious and messy !! My daughter recently said to me as she was waiting for her slices, “ Mum why do you always have the middle bit”- to which I exclaimed “It remains one of the few places where I have some authority” and we laughed.
In the spring and summer terms of 2022 I ran an NVR programme for a new SEMH (Social, Emotional and Mental Health) special school in the area where I work as an Educational Psychologist and Systemic Family Therapist. The funding for this was from the COVID Recovery fund. I ran this programme with two colleagues, one of whom joined me for the parent / carer group and the other with whom I co-facilitated the school staff group, who met separately. Most staff sessions were in person, but some sessions had to be carried out online due to COVID 19. The parent sessions were run online exclusively from the beginning. The school had opened in 2020 during the pandemic and staff turnover was high
In this blog post I describe my learning from the NVR school staff group.
Among NVR’s life-affirming philosophy and principles, its focus on parents as a valuable resource invites embattled parents to invest in themselves. For those who have been dismissed and abused by their children, blamed by agencies and harsh on their own perceived failings, this is a gamechanger. It gives permission for acts of care and kindness for themselves and others, invites mindfulness, grounding and compassion. It gives the right and power to choose what you say and do, how you speak to yourself and how you invite others to help your family. For parents living with multi-generational deprivation and violence, with no sense of personal power, the idea that their effectiveness depends on their own strength and wellbeing, rather than control, is revolutionary – and a little counter-cultural.
Supporting Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities using NVR: A Journey of Parental Legitimacy
I have had the pleasure of working with individuals with learning disabilities, both in adult and child settings, for 20 years. Across all roles, I have worked with parents, and an interest in all things parenting started to develop, an interest that peaked when I became a parent for the first time. I have also naturally found myself holding a position of resistance across roles: holding the needs of people with learning disabilities (and their families) in the minds of others at an individual level and at a service level and opening different perspectives in understanding psychological distress by taking a trauma-informed approach, especially understanding behaviour as a form of communication. I have always valued the role of the therapeutic relationship, taking a playful and measured pace in my work, but noticed an internal conflict with external drivers to ‘do’ and ‘improve’ an individual’s circumstances, for example, through ‘goal-based outcomes’ within the context of a therapeutic model.
As part of my NVR accreditation, I reflected on my own NVR journey, both personally and professionally as a mum to four children working within a context of a Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and a Children’s inpatient unit. The journey brought forth ideas of unity demonstrating how together we can make a difference.
Unity is illustrated when I witness birds embark on their journey to a warmer destination, they take flight and form a V-shape flying pattern, the formation creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. When a bird falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the resistance of trying to go it alone — and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. When the lead bird gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another bird flies up front. There is encouragement from behind for those at the front to maintain their momentum.
I have recently completed my NVR Accreditation Module through PartnershipProjects. My journey in NVR started 7 years ago, I can honestly say that this process has changed my view of communication and my ethos of life. I am confident to shout from the rooftops what I have learnt through my NVR training. I have learnt we can work in co-creative ways to form positive relationships and treat others with unconditional positive regard, even when that means resisting outside agencies / organisations / influences. As part of my journey to get to this stage in my learning, I found that NVR is “the only way”.
I work in a therapeutic environment supporting young people who have experienced many challenges in their lives, where their voices will not have been heard or valued. My presentation focussed on a young person who came from an abusive and neglectful background which unfortunately resulted in her being in a secure hospital before joining Anderida Adolescent Care.
For the past 3 years, I have been using NVR in my work with individual families and in groups within my CAMH’s role. I am currently completing the PartnershipProjects Accreditation Module as my final stage of training in NVR. I knew this would be an enriching experience to discover how other practitioners applied and utilised NVR as an approach.
The title for my blog post is “unconditional love”. This subject brought about many considerations at one of the early sessions of an NVR parent group. In the group, I described the stance of unconditional love as a cornerstone of NVR. I became very aware of the possible impact of my words on one of the parents. She was a foster mother who I had met just once before. I felt concerned that the words, “I am here, you cannot get rid of me, I am your parent, I will always be here, I love you”, might not resonate with her lived reality.