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Special Students, Special Night, Special “Parenting” Workshop

Tonight I met with parents and students at Mountain Secondary School in Hamilton Ontario. This high school is dedicated to serving students with special needs. The context of the meeting was a parenting workshop. It came as surprise that of the nearly 40 people in attendance, there were about 14 students.

It went great.

As always, after introducing myself I immediately went to asking those in attendance why they came out and what they were hoping I would talk about. I explained by asking these questions up front, I would then gear my presentation to directly meeting their learning needs.

Parents and students alike raised questions:

  • How can I trust more than one person at a time?
  • How do we transmit values to our children?
  • How do we deal with our children’s anxiety and/or depression?
  • How do we get kids to show respect?

There were many more questions and each was printed on the flip chart. With that I launched in to a history lesson on the changing structure of the family over time; the influence of the economy; the influence of technology. I explained how since the 1950’s parents and children have less and less direct contact with each other. We are more separate than ever before in history, yet even when within the same family.

Next I discussed attachment theory. Then I connected the dots between our greater disconnection between parents and children over time and the increase of childhood anxiety and behavior problems. Societal, economic and technological changes have given rise to a generation of children with what appears as modest to severe insecure attachment disorders.

With the lessons over, I then provided strategy after strategy for reconnection, to help facilitate secure attachments, relationship all through which we could then feel better about ourselves and through which we could then influence our children instead of punishing them. I explained that punishment leads to greater disconnection when the underlying issues seen today is already too much disconnection. Our kids need us and we need to learn how to facilitate that connection and sense of security.

After offering strategy after strategy to reconnect, I then had the pleasure of bringing up one of the students for a role play. Spontaneously we demonstrated two ways of handling the same situation: one through an escalation of distress and the other through promoting engagement and attachment. I asked the student how he felt about the first and then second role play. He was awesome. He explained he felt angry with the shouting and threats of punishment yet felt loved and cared for through connection strategies. It was powerful, it was spontaneous. Everyone in the room got it.

Fantastic evening.

The title of the workshop is Raising Awesome Kids.

Thanks Mountain SS.

All questions answered.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information please scroll down and share this article. Need a workshop presenter? Call me.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

What is Emotional Literacy and How is it Important in Managing Child Behavior in the Classroom or at Home?

We see children act without thinking. We refer to them as having poor judgement. Underneath their behavior was a feeling state, typically an unsettling emotion. Not knowing how to interpret or what to do with the emotion, the child seeks to discharge it quickly in order to restore oneself to a better feeling state. However, having acted without thinking it through, the child inadvertently makes their situation worse by virtue of the poorly chosen behavior. This cycle continues and the child appears out of control.

Helping children to key in to their own feelings let alone those of others and in view of those feelings find a way to respond reasonably can be challenging. It is challenging for some adults too. It is as if we need to slow down the immediacy of a response so that the feeling can be better processed or understood and the response can then be better attuned to the situation. This is what is known as emotional literacy.

Teaching emotional literacy to children is less about a lecture and more about the parent or teacher engaging in the behaviors of emotional literacy through which the child may learn observationally. The parent or teacher creates the conditions for this incidental learning by their managing their emotions constructively first, then empathizing with the child and next responding in a manner that is respectful and nurturing.

Consider these two scenarios:

The teacher assigns some seat work that if not completed during class, will remain for the student as homework.

A student then appears agitated and distracted. The student fidgets and is disruptive to another student near by. The teacher looks sternly at the agitated student thinking to extend a non-verbal message  to settle down. The student’s behavior escalates. The teacher continues to give sterner and sterner looks to settle down. Eventually the student is sent to the Principal’s office.

Given principles of emotional literacy, upon the teacher’s recognition of the child’s agitation, rather than a stern look which may be felt as shameful by the student creating greater emotional distress, the teachers goes calmly to the student and crouches beside the student. The teacher breathes slowly and quietly exuding their calm. As the student settles, the teacher says quietly and privately, “I noticed you appeared upset, what’s up?” The student responds by saying she didn’t really understand the assignment and was afraid that even if taken home, by not being able to do it, would get into trouble with parents and teacher alike. The teacher reassures the student that she won’t get in trouble, re-explains the assignment until clearly understood and the student settles into work.

—————–

It is after school and near dinner time. The parent is making dinner and the aroma of the food beckons the child to the kitchen. The child is hungry and can’t wait for dinner. The child complains and the parent tells the child to wait. The child complains louder about their hunger and the parent sends the child to his room.

Given principles of emotional literacy, the parent realizes that the hunger of the child is felt painfully. Instead of telling the child to wait which to the child feels like the parent doesn’t appreciate his pain, the parent has the child stand on a chair and help prepare the meal. The parent holds the child near with one arm around the child’s waste and says, “I’m hungry too, it’s so hard to be patient when so hungry. With you helping me like this, we’ll both feel better soon.”  The child settles down and they enjoy each others company to make a dinner that now takes a bit more time to prepare, yet does feel better.

In view of the scenarios, the onus is on the teacher or parent to first manage their emotions constructively so as not to provoke an escalation in the child by creating more troubling emotions. Next the teacher or parent expresses empathy through their observation and then connects with the child to figure things out without creating shame, blame, embarrassment or resentment. The child responds reasonably and the underlying issue is resolved in a way that teaches how to manage feelings constructively.

Emotional literacy in the teacher or parent is key to facilitating self-regulation in children. Self-regulation is the ability of the child to sooth oneself when emotionally distressed and create solutions to that are functional. In the above examples, the student/child can learn to remain calm, express the underlying issue and seek resolution. The teacher/parent can reinforce those processes as observed simply by providing positive feedback in the moment or through reflection at a later time.

I am available to provide workshops to teachers for this and other strategies to manage children’s behavior in the classroom and to parents through counseling to manage children’s behavior at home.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information please scroll down and share this article. Help get the word out that help is available.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Call me.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

 

Separating; Surviving; Thriving.

Some of the people I have worked with are truly better at deception, manipulation and lies than I or anyone else at telling the truth.

I would see these folks in the context of contested child custody and access battles.

Their spouses would appear embattled and often defeated. Some would appear almost hysterical against the barrage of allegations against them by former partners who after making their lives a living hell within the relationship next make their lives a living hell through the children upon the dissolution of the relationship.

Some of these folks have been remarkably physically abusive and others have been so adept at psychological, emotional and verbal means of abuse, so as not to leave visible scars but have to none-the-less, cut their former partners to the bone. It is the latter who are the more dangerous. They destroy people in their wake. They assassinate their character. They bury them in paperwork. They use the very institutions meant to serve and protect to  harass and bully. Some are incredibly meticulous and relentless in their dismantling of their former partner. Throughout, they cloak themselves in the role of victim, the victim of supposed atrocities perpetrated against them by their former partner, atrocities that are nothing more than their projections on the other for behavior engaged in themselves.

My role with these persons has been as assessor, mediator and arbitrator. My role entails sorting out truth from fiction, fact from lies. In so doing, I am then tasked to provide the court with a document giving evidence of who is what, who does what and what in the midst of that is best for their children, children who at times are so impacted upon, that they too bear the scars of shell shock. My role involves helping parents in these horrendous situations make decisions about the care of their children between them. My role also included making decisions directly, decisions to mitigate the impact of such nefarious behavior on their children’s well being, physically, emotionally, mentally and cognitively.

As a professional working with such persons, it is difficult to help those outside of the profession to ever imagine how heinous some people can be, how two-faced, how destructive, how manipulative. By the way, the crime of their former partner that so evokes such despicable behavior against them is having fallen for the lies and manipulations and being in love; having been lured into a love that was meant to serve the perpetrator at the expense of the victim. Like persons who have been taken in by con artists, their other crimes include embarrassment and a sense of shame and guilt. They wonder, how could they have been so taken in. Again though, it bears remembering the perpetrators are better at deception, lies and manipulation than their partners are at telling the truth or defending themselves. If there was another crime, it may have been that some of their victims were vulnerable, having pre-existing self-esteem issues, making the attraction of the perpetrator all that more alluring.

Given that the best predictor for the well being of children subject to parental separation is the level of conflict between the parents and given the extreme nature of the conflict between parents in these situations, their children are at great risk of poor outcomes. Their children often appear disorganized, perfectionist, extremely out of control or alternately extremely well controlled, as bullies themselves or alternately withdrawn. In adolescence there is risk of early onset sexual behavior with all that entails, drug and alcohol abuse, truancy, more perfectionism, mental health problems up to and including self mutilation, suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior. And then there are those children who appear well and composed. They seem to skate through unscathed, but concern remains they are the walking time bombs, ready to emerge in their adult relationship with the problems exposed to in their formative years between their parents.

The perpetrators of this family destruction do not take losing or winning well as odd as that sounds. In winning, it is never enough, they always seek more. In losing, they plot their revenge and never rest. Like a junk yard dog on a bone, they relentlessly pursue their prey and seek to make right their version of a perceived wrong if having lost the battle. To regain power, they do so by trying to undermine those whose actions are felt to have thwarted their goals. They next plot against the service providers, the courts, the judges and even their own lawyers. If they can kill the prior messengers and decision makers, they believe they can undo the previous outcome and still reach their goal. It is as if they do not rest or sleep. When their former partner thinks it is all over, the tactics re-emerge but there is a difference. In their re-emergence, the perpetrator is now that much more sophisticated in their strategy having learned from their previous attempts. They are more dangerous than before. Their deception, manipulations and lies are even more believable given practice over time. Their partners continue to swim against that tide.

These are the 1% to 3% of situations that tie up the 90% of court time and all other resources. Unfortunately, the court system can exacerbate these situations. Few professionals will ever admit it, but these situations are the stage four intractable cancers of parenting conflicts. These are not situations to be solved, just as some cancers are not to be cured.

The better outcome may be in learning how to manage and cope and live with dignity in the midst of chaos and destruction. That may better serve the children, who rather than being embroiled in the noise and confusion of events, can still find peace with at least one parent who may let go a battle to serve better at a later date. This may require a leap of faith that this produces a better outcome although admittedly, the outcomes will likely not be as hoped for, just not as worse and it could be.

I see those parents who against their better judgement, let go their battle to appease the oppressor in the hopes the child will be spared. These parents are courageous yet much misunderstood. Others may look and ask how they could ever relinquish their child to such a person. They do so after considering the alternative: no peace ever and the child’s destruction in the battle or some semblance of peace even given the child will still be subject to the influence of the other.

I stopped working in the court system and stopped providing arbitration involved services well over a year ago. I have been the victim of these persons’ wrath and I recognize the futility of the court system in addressing these situations. I too have been subject to the use or manipulation of institutions as means of abuse. I have been cyber bullied. These persons have tried to undermine my livelihood. I recognize the futility of making arbitration decisions with persons who will never accept the outcome but in turn will next target the messenger.

Despite the above, I continue to serve. My services include being available to discuss such challenging situations on a one-to-one basis and offering a suite of services to hopefully peacefully produce better outcomes than those imposed through court or arbitration. I also provide consultation service to other family law professionals as well as mental health professionals.

Thankfully, the vast majority of separating parents do not face such dire circumstances. My services provide an alternative to the court system which if taken at the beginning of a separation can help stave off in some situations, the fall-out experienced by many from going the court route.

At the end of the day, all that is sought by most separating parents is a peaceful transition to a new family structure where both parents and children can adjust and move forward. I would be pleased to help you with that and I appreciate the fear imposed through any process that involves your children’s well being and your relationship with them. If you are separating, I am here and I would like to help.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information please scroll down and share this article. Help get the word out that help is available.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

Child Behavior Problem? Consider a Bio-Psycho-Social Approach to Assessment and Treatment

When children surface with behavioral challenges, there can be many underlying factors giving rise to the behavior.

The first step in the helping process is for both parents to meet with a professional with knowledge, training and expertise in child behavior issues. That professional should interview the parents without the child present and conduct a bio-psycho-social assessment. In other words, the professional should ask questions to help determine if the issue underlying the behavior has a biological or physiological basis, a psychological basis, a social basis or a combination of factors thereof.

Depending on the information gleaned by the professional, the next steps may include receiving reports, seeing the child directly, referral for additional assessment and/or guidance to the parents to help manage the behavior directly.

For example;

  1. Eight-year-old Ryan had problems at school yet was well behaved at home. He was fine on his own, but in groups his behavior deteriorated and it was difficult for the teacher to gain his attention. The assessor met with the parents and learned that Ryan had recurring earaches as a toddler and that although his hearing cleared up, the assessor was concerned that Ryan was likely left with an auditory processing disorder. Ryan was sent for additional testing that confirmed the assessor’s concern. Help for Ryan included preferential seating at school and his teacher using visual as opposed to verbal strategies to gain his attention when the classroom was busy or noisy. Behavior quickly settled down.
  2. Nine-year-old Bethany was described as having anxiety. She was apparently nervous when asked to go from one class to another and frequently appeared nervous when asked to go to bed. Her teachers and parents would always provide additional special time for Bethany to adjust to expectations. After enjoying her special time, then she would follow through with expectations. The assessment determined that this wasn’t anxiety in its true form, but a means of getting out of task. Bethany learned that if she simply resisted expectations she would be punished, but if she said she was nervous or scared, her parents and teachers would give in to her wishes. As parents and teachers held her accountable to expectations, her behavior subsided.
  3. Seven-years-old Jacob had stomachaches. He had been to see his doctor and was even scoped. There was no physical basis to his complaints. In meeting with the parents it was discovered that there was abusive behavior between the parents. In meeting with Jacob, he revealed that whenever he heard his parents fight, he would go between them and say his stomach hurt. According to Jacob his parents would then stop fighting and start concentrating on him. This was his strategy for keeping his parents safe. Therapy was directed towards helping the parents manage their relationship peacefully. His stomachaches went away.

It is important for parents to appreciate that treatment or therapy or intervention follows a good assessment.

Without a reasonable assessment, help may not be directed appropriately. This leads to treatment failure and can make the situation worse.

Be wary of therapists who seem willing to ask few questions of the parents and go directly to working with your child.

Child behavior problems can be multi-faceted and the best approach starts with a multitude of questions and includes a good developmental history. See someone who will take a bio-psycho-social approach.

Do you know someone who might benefit from this information? Please scroll down and share this article. Need help for a child behavior problem? Call me.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

LG. The Saga Continues…

You guessed it. Still no phone.

On Friday, April 8th I received an email from LG:

Thank you for submitting this documentation, with that on file we will have a replacement G4 sent to you. You should be receiving it within approximately 7-10 days, though we will try to expedite that for you, and included with that will be a return waybill to send back your current phone.

Now, 11 days later, I still do not have my phone.

I just sent this email to LG, Virgin Mobile and the store where I purchased the phone originally:

 I just got off the phone with LG in the Philipines. For whatever reason, I am unable to connect now with LG Canada IN CANADA.
The customer service rep told me that VM has to set up the phone and then VM will send it to LG and then LG will send it to me.
I am told this will be another week to 10 days beyond the original week to 10 days.
I have yet to receive my new phone, despite waiting now 11 days.
Can any of you help me?
Do I have to pay for service to VM given I have no phone?
Can someone expedite this process?

 

So far in terms of my customer service, I have been gaslighted, lied to outright, stalled and simply forgotten about.

If you have an interest in following the story, it starts with this blog post:

My discussion of gaslighting as a form of abuse by LG is here.

My demonstration of jumping through their crazy hoops is here.

My next step will be to send this material to the mainstream media.

Would you buy a product from this LG given this customer service experience?

Thanks for sharing this blog with the links below!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

Educational Assistants and What ALL Parents Should Know

In February I blogged about lessons I learned the result of two workshops to Educational Assistants (EAs).

That blog went viral and as a result, catapulted me deeper into the challenges faced by those in the profession. I have since received numerous emails and messages from across Canada advising of the same issues throughout.

Educational Assistants feel like the second cousin the the educational system in a role where they work with students who otherwise could not attend school. They work with students who are not only developmentally and/or cognitively and/or psychically and/or academically challenged, but also other students whose issues include minor to extreme behavioral problems. Behavioral problems is actually code for violence and aggression.

Everyday in classrooms across Canada (and likely the US) EAs are hit, spit upon, crapped on (literally), punched, verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, sexually assaulted, and injured – at times emotionally and at times physically. As these incidents occur in the classroom, they are witnessed by the other students whose exposure to these events may either desensitize them to acts of violence and aggression, or alternately may traumatize them. The vast majority of parents have no idea what-so-ever as to what may transpire in a class that is co-served by an EA.

Not only are the other students subject as witness to these events, but the EA as the direct target is subject to personal injury, stress and mental health issues (PTSD).

Today I received a transcript of an appeal report of a decision made by the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). I was appalled.

You can read the transcript for yourself and form your own opinion, but I was struck by the fact that the incidents reported were not in dispute; that the EA was the target of ongoing violent attacks by the student and that the worker was diagnosed with a stress related disorder as a result.

What was disputed was whether or not such violence was to be expected as normal and reasonable and within the scope of acceptability for the role of the EA. Happily the EA won the right of appeal. The report is graphic and details the undisputed experience of the EA.

What isn’t addressed in the report was the experience and incidental learning by the other students witnessing the violent behavior over time.

If you are a parent and have a student in a class served by an EA, ask your son or daughter what they witness. Consider what they report and consider what impact that may have on your child, whether or not your child is aware of any impact.

If you are an EA, I suggest you read the report. It is instructive in terms of appreciating the need for reporting and documentation. The report is like a master class in conveying the absolute need for the EA to document all incidents of violence and aggression.

Some students with behavioral difficulties just may not be suited to the mainstream educational system. This is a very unpopular thing for me to say, but it is predicated on the knowledge and belief that any social policy, such as mainstreaming, that does not allow for exceptions, will create bigger problems than those intended to serve.

These are very expensive children to support and they will require considerable resources and typically more resources than are available in the regular community school. Until this is recognized and appreciated, the student with the special need is not properly served, the students subjected to the behavior of the challenging student will have their education and possibly their health and well being affected and EAs will continue to be injured physically and mentally. If a student with such extreme behavior is to remain in a regular classroom, then more resources are required there to make it safe and suitable for learning.

I think that as soon as parents of students without special needs take notice, then things may change. Read the report and then consider if you want your child in a classroom where that kind or level of violence occurs.

All the students and workers require better.

And I am a social worker who happily works with parents of children with complex needs.  Let’s truly meet their needs and not inadvertently put others at risk of harm.

Do you know someone who might benefit from this information? Want to spread the word about this situation? Please scroll down and share this article.

Please also read the comments below and feel free to leave your thoughts.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

 

 

Separated Parents: Mental Health Professionals need specific knowledge and trianing.

Many mental health professionals fail to appreciate the difference between their typical clinical client and those clients seen in the context of separation or divorce.

Clients seen clinically more often acknowledge a personal issue. They are depressed and/or anxious and/or present with any other significant mental health concern. These are persons who are unsettled by their distress and feel the problem is somehow or other with them self. They are considered ego-dystonic.

This contrasts to people seen in the context of separation or divorce. While the client may present as upset, depressed or anxious, these clients are more apt to attribute the source of their distress to the other. It is as if they say, I am fine myself, or at least wouldn’t have any issues if not for the problems imposed by my partner or former partner. These clients are considered ego-syntonic.

When one is ego-dystonic, they are open to self-reflection and considering the impact of their own behavior in creating or maintaining the problem. They are open to considering strategies to alter one’s own thinking, feeling or behaving. They are in a position to take some degree of responsibility towards their own recovery.

This is not the case when someone is ego-syntonic. In believing the source of distress lies outside oneself in either a situation or other person, the person in distress sees no responsibility towards the solution directly. They see them self as the passive victim to the behavior of the other and that it is the responsibility of the other to change.

Unless this is clearly understood and appreciated by the mental health professional it can be difficult to near impossible to to help this separated parent make any direct change that might improve their situation.

In this context then, our help is not so much directed towards helping this person develop insight or take responsibility for what may be their contribution to distress. Our help may be better aimed towards facilitating strategies for coping with or better managing the contributions of the other.

Without necessarily accepting or rejecting the problems identified as originating with their partner or former partner, we still can help our client manage their own emotions, effectively problems solve and respond with behaviors that promote reasonable boundaries. In this way, we are more coach than mental health healer.

The other challenge for many mental health professionals working with separated parents, particularly if involved in the family law system, are the tugs and pulls of that system. While the mental health professional is seeking to facilitate well being and reasonable relationships, the family law system may be seeking documentation and allies in support of one parent over the other. This is ripe for creating conflicts of interest and undermining the role of the mental health professional as they are pushed from helping towards advocating. This inherently creates concern for bias and role creep – where the role shifts from what was intended to working on behalf of one parent over the other.

If you are a mental health professional working with separated parents and these concerns resonate and you feel either lost or caught between competing interests, this is a sign your role may have been or is about to be compromised and you are at risk of acting beyond your scope of practice. This is a sign you may benefit from supervision or at least a consultation. Working with separated parents with regard to their separation is a specialized area of practice and it may interest you to know that there are suggested guidelines and standards of practice for these situations.

If you are the parent seeking support or guidance through your separation or seeking support for your child in the process of separation, do seek help from a mental health professional who has specific knowledge and training in this area. To assure yourself that your mental health professional has knowledge or experience in this area of practice, ask.

Do you know someone who might benefit from this information? Please scroll down and share this article. To view my full list of peacemaking strategies to facilitate settlement, check this out. Thank you.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

Facebook
Linked In
Twitter

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

 

 

 

 

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