This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Books and Methods Review - Therapeutic Parenting - Beyond Consequences

Therapeutic Parenting 

Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control
Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control: A Love-Based Approach to Helping Attachment-Challenged Children With Severe Behaviors by Heather T. Forbes and B. Bryan Post  -

Marythemom:  This book is what our attachment therapist bases a lot of her therapy work on with our daughter.  I use it primarily to help me remember where the kids are coming from (fear!), especially when they are having meltdowns.  I've reviewed and mentioned it several times on my blog, including this post.

The premise is that there are only two primary emotions, Love and Fear.  For example, when a traumatized child shows anger it is because he or she is scared.  It helped me understand, and therefore feel more sympathy for, my child's fear that caused him/her to act out. Our kids act out of instinctual "life or death" fear most of the time. It helps me somewhat to think of my child like a wounded, cornered animal -- instinct causes it to lash out at those who only want to help it. 

This book does have some dry spots.  

The authors have their good points, but be aware that there is a lot of parental blame (the burden of the child’s healing rests squarely on the parent’s shoulders!). I feel that the whole Beyond Consequences books, seminars and videos have a lean toward if you do exactly what we tell you then your child will be healed/ healing in 6 months. If your child is not healing... then you are doing it wrong. This is just not true. There are MANY factors as to why your child may not respond to these methods (ex. severe mental illness, developmental or intellectual disibilities, age of the child, extent of the trauma, needs of other family members...).

The books and seminars are often very commercial (there are a lot of free newsletters and seminars, but they seem almost to be given to hook you in so you will buy products.  There are many rumors regarding Post (co-author of the original Beyond Consequences book) being associated with some techniques that are now looked at as abusive (such as rebirthing) and having misrepresented his credentials. 

Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control covers in detail the effects of trauma on the body-mind and how trauma alters children’s behavioral responses. The first four chapters help parents and professionals clearly understand the neurological research behind the basic model given in this book, deemed, 'The Stress Model.' While scientifically based in research, it is written in an easy to understand and easy to grasp format for anyone working with or parenting children with severe behaviors. The next seven chapters are individually devoted to seven behaviors typically seen with attachment-challenged children. These include lying, stealing, hoarding and gorging, aggression, defiance, lack of eye contact, and yes, even a chapter that talks candidly about how parents appear hostile and angry when they work to simply maintain their families from reaching complete states of chaos. Each of these chapters talks in depth on these specific behaviors and gives vivid and contrasting examples of how this love-based approach works to foster healing and works to develop relationships, as opposed to the fear-based traditional attachment parenting approaches that are being advocated in today’s attachment field. The authors end with a Parenting Bonus Section. True testimonials from parents who have been able to make significant changes in their homes with this model of parenting, giving real-life examples of how they have been able to find the healing, peace, and love that they had been seeking prior to working through the techniques outlined in this book.

Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control: A Love Based Approach to Helping Children with Severe Behaviors, Volume 2

Heather offers practical and effective solutions based in scientific research, coupled with professional and personal experience. She is a master at bridging the gap between academic research and real life when the rubber hits the road parenting. This book is written in an easy to understand and easy to grasp format for anyone working with or parenting children with difficult or severe behaviors. The first six chapters discuss the principles of her love-based parenting paradigm. A new understanding of why traditional parenting techniques are ineffective with children with difficult behaviors is given, along with clear and concise explanations of the science behind trauma and negative early life experiences. The next seven chapters address specific behaviors, including poor social skills, homework battles, demanding behaviors, self-injury, defensive attitudes, no conscience, and chores. Each chapter gives specific examples of how to implement her parenting principles, empowering parents to make amazing and permanent changes in their homes. All the examples given throughout these chapters are true stories provided by parents who read and implemented her first book, Volume 1. The book ends with a parenting bonus section where more real-life stories from real-life parents with real-life children are given. These examples range in the spectrum of the ages of the children and a variety of behavioral issues. This book offers hope and healing. It goes beyond just changing a child s behaviors but goes to the level of healing for all family members.

Marythemom:  I felt a lot of this book was a repeat of the first, and I admit I quickly skimmed the first 6 chapters which discussed the love-based concept.  I expected the rest to contain more practical advice, but honestly I felt it was helpful in reinforcing that I needed to remain calm and help my child emotionally regulate (very important!), but didn’t feel it went much further than that.  I get reinforcement of this already in weekly therapy (our attachment therapist very much uses this technique) so all in all I felt other books to be more useful in my tool box.

Dare to Love: The Art of Merging Science and Love Into Parenting Children with Difficult Behaviors~ Heather T. Forbes 

Emerging science has helped us to understand children better from a neurological and behavioral standpoint. Yet, all the academic research coupled with the best diagnoses for children can still leave parents feeling completely powerless. In her book, Dare to Love, Heather Forbes, LCSW, describes in detail, through a series of questions and answers, how to merge science into everyday parenting. This book gives practical, effective, and loving solutions for any parent struggling with his or her child. It will leave you feeling empowered, hopeful, and excited to be a parent, again.

Help for Billy: A Beyond Consequences Approach to Helping Challenging Children in the Classroom

"Help for Billy" is a pragmatic manual to help guide families and educators who are struggling with traumatized children. Based on the concept of the neuroscience of emotions and behavior, Heather Forbes provides detailed, comprehensive, and logical strategies for teachers and parents. This easy to read book, with tables, outlines and lists, clears the way for a better understanding of the true nature regarding traumatic experiences affecting the brain and learning. It is a must read for anyone working with a child in the classroom.

Beyond Consequences Seminar - 

I've been using the Beyond Consequences philosophy with my children for many years.  I find it VERY helpful to be more empathetic and better able to deal with my kids with RAD and mental illnesses.  I went to a B.C. seminar fairly recently and there was a lot of good information (even though there was a lot of push for her new book - Help for Billy). I did not always agree with some of the advice given to the parents in the trenches.  I have often felt that B.C. is saying that if my child doesn't heal, then it is the parents' fault for not trying hard enough, not being/ doing enough.  My kids are SEVERELY damaged and nothing I do is going to fix that.

During the Q&A at the seminar, a social worker brought up the case of a single parent whose child is suffering from obvious anxiety at school, Heather Forbes told her to homeschool.  I'm sorry, but while that is a great solution and definitely should be mentioned, it is frequently just not realistic. I found the social worker during a break and gave her some other alternatives:

  • getting the child diagnosed emotionally disturbed, and forcing the school to make some accommodations; 
  • homebound schooling - where the school is still obligated to provide services at home; 
  • partial day hospitalization (aka intensive outpatient) - schooling is provided in a hospital setting but the child comes home in the evenings....  

I didn't expect Heather Forbes to have all the answers, but I thought she should at least mention that there were alternatives.

A fellow blogger posted this review of the seminar.

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