Nancy began her talk by telling us a moving story about her parenting of her son and how it had not been so successful, and how and what she has learnt from that.

She very honestly and movingly told the story of her son’s troubles and her own  parenting mistakes.  She said she had been too controlling and had not given her son sufficient freedom to find himself.

She said that parents often have the need for children to be a certain way and should instead allow and encourage children to be who they are and to trust children’s inner wisdom.  ‘How can I support you?’ is an important question for a parent to hold in mind when parenting.

Nancy’s self disclosure was movingly honest and evoked powerful responses from several participants.  It reminded me of the power of judicious use of self disclosure by a therapist in working  with a client and of the power of sharing.

One participant at the talk wrote in feedback that “,it made a refreshing change to hear the presenter’s personal story and what she learnt along the way.  It certainly seemed to resonate with a number of people and gave me food for thought in terms of my own parenting.’

Nancy’s talk reminded us powerfully about the value of therapy for parents and children alike, and she went on to talk of some tools that she likes to use with individuals and groups, particularly Mindfulness.  She summed up her work with groups on Wise Parenting as;

  • how to improve self-awareness
  • how to recognise and challenge self-limiting patterns of belief and behaviour
  • resilience skills
  • setting healthy boundaries
  • emotional regulation

After the break, there was then an interesting and valuable break-out discussion about how to ‘normalise’ therapy.   Several people reported that a lot was going on in schools but that the cost of private therapy can make it unattractive.

In the feedback, many people thought that the topic, ‘wise parenting’ was not as fully addressed as it could have been and that we came away without sufficient information about how to address poor parenting. One participant offered some suggestions about useful reading, which you can find at the end of the review.

Another   participant wrote in feedback that ‘if we had had a little more time in the breakout groups and after, I think the points discussed would have come across more clearly:  that now schools are integrating learning about emotions and mental health into even the earliest stages of education; that it may be possible to include some of this sort of training into classes before childbirth.  I saw a ‘chat’ comment about involving the media and wish this could have been discussed.  Imagine if at the half-hour there were a ‘slot’ on how to be mentally healthier and a better parent, the way there’s a ‘slot’ on sports every hour during the Today programme on Radio 4 each morning except Sunday.’

Perhaps the evening would have been better if it had been either fully on the topic of wise parenting or fully on the topic of Therapy becoming more public and more accessible.

However, Nancy was a powerful and engaging speaker who gave us a stimulating evening, reminding us of some of the core values and practices of counselling and psychotherapy.

David Brown

Some suggestions for Reading:

“The A – Z of Therapeutic Parenting:  Strategies and Solutions”  and

“Therapeutic Parenting in a Nutshell  Sarah Naish

“Therapeutic Parenting in a Nutshell – Positives and Pitfalls”.Sarah Naish

“How to talk so teens will listen and listen so teens will talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish