I have been supporting a family for over two years now. When the referral was first allocated to me, I set up the initial sessions to be weekly and intense. This lasted for about four months; then there was a period of work that was less intense but still supportive, and regular sessions took place about once a fortnight. When a year had passed the sessions became less frequent, on average about once a month and scheduled as needed by the parents. In between these sessions we had email communication and text messages. After about 18 months their funding stream had been exhausted; we reviewed the case and discussed closing it.

In my opinion the family had fully embraced NVR; the mother and father had learned how to parent their child peacefully and how to overcome their own anxieties in the face of the unwanted behaviours he presented – they accomplished this by becoming proactive and acting on their pledge to keep him safe and supported even while he was still making choices that were not helpful in his life.

The parents had expressed concern about closing our work; this left me thinking about co-dependency and becoming reliant on services when the parents clearly knew the approach and were confident and capable in managing the controlling behaviours. However, I hadn’t been able to view the intervention from a parent’s perspective. Once a family shows progress and maintains the improvement that their engagement with a therapeutic approach such as NVR has brought about, once professionals see the family developing more healthy relationships, it is natural for services to withdraw and close their work, especially in these times of austerity. However, this had left this family in a vulnerable position. The parents felt that even though they knew the approach well, had been coached successfully in nonviolent practices, and had created positive change for the whole family, maintenance was necessary to support their continued efforts and help reaffirm their use of the approach. They spoke about knowing the approach and what to do, but having their practitioner on the end of the phone for a 30 minute session once every six weeks and coaching them through each new stage of challenges their child brought them was crucial for their well-being and sense of agency. This family funded this independently.

The parents recognised how NVR had hugely helped them to keep him safe, and having a practitioner with whom to share his progress and challenges meant they were not alone. This loneliness can leave parents feeling vulnerable. It is true that once the violence has ceased and parents have grown in confidence and developed agency in their child’s life, the approach has been successful. However, NVR is still a relatively new approach and there are still only just a handful of agencies trained in the approach. How can families access support as and when they need it, even if only for a brief contact every so often? Is it wise to let them continue their efforts in the face of such challenges alone?

NVR is an approach that changes parents’ and caregivers’ perception of their child, and helps them challenge their own underlying beliefs. With these changes comes a deep sense of connection between parent and child.

How can parents access ongoing support to keep their NVR skills alive and functioning?

How can more practitioners be creative in helping parents support one another?

How might parents make a deep connection with another family who live miles away?

Are monthly drop-ins the answer?

Is the answer to be creative with online support groups?

How does this happen when you feel you’re the only parent who practices NVR in your area and nobody else understands the approach?

Parents have invested in the approach, lived it, breathed it and consumed it because it works. Then they face going it alone, just them and their support network. It is clear the changes that a challenging child brings to a family can be overwhelming and exhausting. Having the support to help carry the load is crucial for the caregiver to maintain the approach and keep strong.

Is NVR a parenting programme or is it for life?

Rachael Aylmer

Accredited NVR Practitioner
Associate Director