As an NVR practitioner, I’m always interested in new ways to give a taste of NVR to parents and supporters. Recently I’ve had a lot of success with using an Aesop’s Fable, which with a little artistic licence I’ve augmented, to simplistically illustrate some of the fundamental principles of NVR.
The Sun and Wind get into an argument about who is more powerful and finally they agree that the only way to settle to matter is to have a competition. The wind suggests that the winner should be the one who can remove the cape from the lonely shepherd, tending his flock on the nearby hill, the quickest.
I have recently signed up for the accreditation module of the NVR training. when I read about the case study element, I wondered which area to focus on, but ultimately settled on my use of the NVR approach in communication with my child’s school. So, in effect, I am my own case study if you like.
When my eldest son started nursery, his difficulties weren’t obvious. He was only three, recently placed with us and still in the ‘honeymoon’ phase where he was actively people pleasing, though we didn’t recognise this as such at the time. Nursery went smoothly, he was able to keep up with educational and social aspects of school life and all was well. Reception went similarly, though we started suspecting he had more difficulties than we initially thought. We asked for help from the adoption agency and were allocated a therapist and post adoption social worker, who are both still very much part of our support network around him, three years on.
I came to the Accreditation Module in Autumn 2021 some 3 years after I had completed my Advanced Level training and Certification in NVR practice through PartnershipProjects. I loved NVR and had been privileged in the preceding 7 years to journey from the Foundation Level, with my two colleagues in the Leeds Adoption Support team, through to the Advanced Certification level.
Together, in those early days, the three of us grew our passion, knowledge and confidence in the NVR principles and practised this with the multi-challenged families in our Adoption Support Service. We worked individually with families and progressed to develop a 12-week parent coaching group with the families struggling with high levels of violence and control from their children and young people.
I remember how much we talked and explored all our thoughts, ideas, and NVR practices. We made mistakes and offered continued support to each other and the families we worked with, to resist such challenges. The changes they experienced within their relationships were remarkable.
Throughout my NVR journey, I’ve been intrigued by how the power of the imagination can support my parenting. Can I reimagine my position as a parent and see the connection with my child strengthened? I’m curious and with the support of our NVR practitioner, have begun to explore some simple imaginary techniques.
Recalling a happy or peaceful time with my child after a challenging episode reminds me that life is not always difficult. It helps to ease a way through and aid recovery and rebalance following times of conflict and disruption. Holding onto the sense that, this too will pass.
Thinking forwards to mentally rehearse a future interaction that I anticipate might be difficult enables me to approach that moment with greater confidence. By slowing down this interaction or conversation I can give attention to how I will respond, my words, body language and facial expression. Somehow this process creates a sense of purpose within me and sets an intention about how I want to connect with my child and how I want them to see me as the parent.
I recently attended the PartnershipProjects NVR Accreditation Module. The course is organised around each participant presenting an aspect of their NVR practice to the group. The presentation is followed by reflections and questions from the group facilitators, and then group participants. For my presentation I shared my NVR practice working with parents of children who self-harm or are suicidal.
My search for NVR literature on this topic located only one article which was by Haim Omer and Dan Dulberger, ‘Helping Parents Cope with Suicide Threats: An Approach Based on Nonviolent Resistance, Family Process 54:559–575, 2015’. In this blog I share some of the key ideas from this article that struck a chord with me and were used in my NVR practice.
In a recent blog for this website, I talked about the early stages of NVR therapy with parents, focussing on the common factors in therapy as a means of assisting newly trained NVR practitioners to value their existing skills and abilities alongside their newer NVR training. I am involved with training many practitioners at Foundation level NVR and then continue to support a significant number through more Advanced training and sometimes act as a supervisor. I often get asked questions around how to introduce NVR to parents and how to distil the ideas into simple, understandable, manageable concepts. I think this is where a therapist’s own creativity is to be encouraged. I enjoy very much when practitioners in training are asked to devise their own NVR ‘maps’ for example. We trainers at PPUK have seen so many great imaginative ‘maps’ where practitioners have put the NVR concepts into pictures and words that encapsulate the key principles and methods so beautifully.
I want to open this reflective piece with a disclaimer…I am not a specialist; I do not have any professional training or qualifications in the arenas of navigating pregnancy and birth. Nor am I an “expert” in becoming a parent, if anything, my own experiences have led me to the conclusion that this does not exist. The following is a reflective account of my own experience of traversing pregnancy and the safe delivery of my beautiful baby boy, shared through the lenses and privileges of my own Social GRACES, on the off chance that someone else may find it helpful. It is about how I believe that my experiences of NVR have coloured and shaped my internal and external worlds, which positively impacted my pregnancy and birth. At its core it is about my belief that NVR is a psyche, and my curiosity about the potential for a movement where there were opportunities to learn about and experience the NVR position in the relationships, we share with ourselves and our own worlds before it is “needed” in our relationships with others.
My experience of completing the Accreditation Module in NVR has been both enriching and inspiring.
As a clinical psychologist working in children’s social care, I was struck by the levels of violence and controlling behaviours within the context of child-parent relationships. I felt out of my depth and turned to NVR with healthy scepticism and hope. I have not since turned back – except when reflecting of course 😉
To me, it has always felt intuitive and necessary to take account of relational dynamics when working towards contextualised understandings of difficulty or distress. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that within both my individual practice and wider systems work, NVR has become my most valued position from which to influence and resist.
This morning my son and I scooted to school together – him on his scooter, me on mine. As we reach the busy main road, we wait together to cross and then chat happily for the rest of the way until parting company at the school gates. It was a calm, safe journey where he was regulated and content. On my way home, I celebrated this as a win – inwardly smiling at his confidence and the connection we shared.
Casting my mind back a year ago, I recall a school run where at the same busy main road, he hadn’t responded to my instruction to wait and pushed out into the road on his scooter. I put my arm out to keep him safe. Eventually we crossed safely and made it to school. Reflecting back there was a distinct lack of safety and perhaps even a ‘disconnect’ in our relationship.
I always knew being a parent would be about sacrifice and patience, about giving, and about providing for my child.
My love provides the setting and context for my child to learn, grow and flourish to develop in a loving, caring and nurturing home. I provide the space in my home and in my life. Physical and practical things like the bedroom, the clothes, the toys, tasty food, the early mornings, the broken nights, clearing the snot and the poo…and then creating memories, first events, days out, holidays and safe learning through exploring and boundary setting.
What if with all of this, the child still struggles to engage in the way I had expected, or engage at all, or even rejects it. What else can my love provide?