Duncan Elliot is a life coach working out of Basingstoke in England. He particularly works with people who feel that there must be more to life and are willing to work at it, so that they can feel happier and more in control of their life. He offers life coaching in person, on the phone or via audio or video across the Internet. Click here to contact him.

Counsellors and therapeutic parents

Force Four Life Coaching

Catch the wind in your sails!

Traumatised kids need to be parented differently, and we parents are often told that they need to be parented “therapeutically”.  That means that we, their parents, need to work with these kids to help them to process and recover from their trauma.  In short, we need to be their therapist.

I was invited to talk to a support group for counsellors about my work.  I spoke to them about adoption, parenting traumatised kids and therapeutic parenting in particular.  It was great: they sat there in absolute silence.  You could see that they were shocked, horrified and appalled at what some of us go through.

As part of it, I gave them a list of the differences between counsellors and adoptive parents (and the same is true of foster parents as well):

Counsellors have breaks.  They do 45, 50, 60 minutes with a client and then go and have a cup of tea.  That's a luxury that adoptive parents don't have.

Counsellors go home in the evening.  They leave it all behind in the office.  That's something that adoptive parents can only dream of.

Counsellors have emotional distance from clients.  Sure they get involved - they're humans - but it's very different when it's your own child.

Counsellors have training.  They have years of training.  Adoptive parents may have a couple of days on a preparation course which may hardly touch on the real issues.

Counsellors have supervision.  If they don't know what to do and how to approach a situation, they have someone to whom they can turn to ask questions and discuss it with.  They have someone on whom they can unload.  Adoptive parents rarely have this sort of relationship.

Counsellors can terminate the relationship.  If their client isn't progressing, they don't get on or if their client physically attacks them, they can decide that they're not going to do it any more.  Adoptive parents are parents forever.

Counsellors' clients usually approach the counsellors.  They want to change and want their help.  Because of that the clients invest in it financially and emotionally.  They spend time and effort in applying what they've worked through with their counsellor.  The more they invest, the more committed they are to change and normally the better and quicker the outcome.  Traumatised kids rarely understand that they can change, don't choose to change and invest little or nothing in it.  They often fight against the change and the person trying to introduce it.

Counsellors' clients are normally grateful.  At the end of a session, most (possibly all?) of my clients say "thank you".  That really helps.  It gives you a little buzz.  Traumatised kids only do that in fiction books and movies.

Counsellors have chosen to do it.  It's their decision to go into this.  So often I've read therapeutic parents write, "I just wanted to be a mum".  We didn't sign up for this!

Counsellors, despite all their training, experience, etc. are not allowed to work with adopted kids (in the UK, unless specifically registered) because they are too complex and their issues are too deep.  Adoptive parents have to.

And counsellors would never, ever, not in a million, zillion years, work with someone who was abusing them.  Nancy Thomas, a well-known adoption therapist said of her organisation, “We work with abused parents”.  Adoptive parents are often working with someone who thumps or kicks them, who blows up emotionally in their face on a regular basis and who uses words and actions to hurt them emotionally.

No wonder that many parents of traumatised kids become exhausted and burnt out!

If that describes you,
contact me to see how I can support you in the incredible job that you're doing.