Therapy Talks

Gain Expert Tips on Trauma-Informed Parenting with Heather Toews

January 31, 2023 Season 1 Episode 54
Therapy Talks
Gain Expert Tips on Trauma-Informed Parenting with Heather Toews
Show Notes Transcript

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This week on Therapy Talks we will be discussing the challenges and benefits of adoption, how to deal with behavioral challenges, and what post-adoption support looks like. We will also be exploring the impact of trauma and how it can cause emotional dysregulation in children, the importance of secure attachment, and how emotion coaching can help children understand and manage their emotions.

Our incredible guest Heather Toews is a therapist with a passion for working with adoptive families. Heather has spent the past 10 years in the field and currently works in the area of mental health with children, youth, and families. She has developed a trauma-informed, attachment-based parenting program for parents and caregivers who have experienced trauma and attachment disruption. Heather will be talking about her trauma-informed parenting course and why it is important for parents and caregivers to have access to this type of support.

Find Out More About Heather:

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Instagram: @switchresearch

Disclaimer: Therapy Talks does NOT provide medical services or professional counseling, and it is NOT a substitute for professional medical care.

I would love if you could take a moment to introduce yourself and a little bit about your background and just to kick things off. For sure. Okay, so my name's Heather Toes and I'm a registered clinical counselor based in Abbotsford, bc, but of course, see clients virtually in all parts of the province.

I am I guess you could, I'm like, how many careers should I count here? , you know how that goes. But probably, yeah, I guess I'm in. My second like career. My first career was actually working as a social worker. So I worked started off in child protection and eventually moved into working in the field of adoption, which was a real passionary of mine for 10 plus years.

And it was actually when I got introduced to Dr. Bruce Perry who's a developmental psychologist. Went to one of his workshops two day workshop, and was introduced to. Neuro sequential model of therapies and went, oh, I wanna do that. And I guess he had announced at the front, at the stage that, oh, and you all could be doing this.

And I had a moment where I was like, oh, really? Like I could take that training and I could be doing this work. And it was at that moment, somebody corrected him and said you actually have to. Masters and I'd say probably 80% of the people in the room did not have their masters at that moment.

And so my boss actually is the one that turned me. And I said I guess I won't be doing that. And he's just go do your master's then. And I was like, What it hadn't even crossed my mind. At that time my daughter was she was about 11 and she's 23 now. And so I decided to go back to school and so I got my master's and have been working in the field of of mental health with children and youth and and then also in private practice.

Wow. What a journey you've had. It sounds like you said, your second career and you were already working in the field of social work in adoption, and then you were really inspired by this modality. Yeah. And this sphere of work, and it really encouraged you to pursue your master's and then pursue private practice and like these certain disciplines.

If it's okay with you, I would love to learn more about like adoption and what adoption looks like in BC as it hasn't been really a topic that's come up on this podcast really. For sure. Adoption pri there's obviously there's different routes to adoption in BC you can adopt privately.

That actually takes up the smallest percentage of adoptions. I believe my stats are gonna be way off because I haven't been working directly, as a social worker in that area for a little while. But back in the day, maybe five, six years ago, they were only doing. 30 direct birth parent placements for adoption in bc and that's attributed to all sorts of factors.

People being more, being more acceptable to be, single parenting, more support out there. And then obviously people making choices to not proceed with pregnancies and things like that. That number is much lower. Then we have, of course, international adoptions, then those.

Around the world, however, there's lots of red tape around those and a great deal of expense. And then there's foster care adoption. And that would be where you adopt through the ministry of children and family development. And that would be that those adoptions are actually essentially free.

There's a few costs like getting your medical done or getting your criminal record checks done, things like that. But and with that there also some. Opportunity for financial support with adopting children from foster care. So that's that adoption process takes takes a while because you have to go through a home study.

You have to be initially screened in, go through a home study, and then would be the matching process, which depending on your openness to working with any special needs or different factors that put your child at higher risk then that can prolong kind of that matching process.

And so just to confirm, so like a direct parent adoption would be, what would that look like? So that would be, say say a woman decides she wants to place her child for adoption. She would go to an agency. So I believe, and like we have three, I think, adoption agencies in BC now. There is actually women and based outta Corona and then one on the island.

And I'm actually, I'm unsure of the third one right now. Those are the two that I'm most aware of. And those adoption agents, Been they actually provide so an adoptive parent would go to those agencies, get a home study done, go through all the screening directly through them. They have depending on which agency you go with, sometimes that home study can actually be utilized with the ministry as well.

So you can put yourself in both pools. However, you still have to do some screening through the. Two. And then birth parents would actually go to the agency and they would actually be able to look through that adoptive parents book that they create. And I've seen some beautiful books done by some of my adoptive parents.

And where they tell their story. They basically share why they've come to that decision. What they have to offer, what their hopes are for openness, which is a really big part of adoption these days, as opposed to historically where adoptions were primarily closed. So there's, might be exchange of pictures or letters or even visits over time.

Okay. Interesting. And so do you find that usually adoptions, like you said, only about 30 are in that way, which is such a small amount for the entire province. And yes, this is maybe an older statistic, but what about just family members adopting. A child that would be, yeah, that would be separate cuz that's actually a family member adopting a child would actually be done through a lawyer.

So it's a little bit different than going through a social worker and so on. I'm not I don't work directly with those parents other than post adoption support. So I'm not entire. Familiar with that process, but but I know it's more of a streamlined process, especially if that parent is like consenting to that adoption and their direct relative.

So you say you support parents more after adoption, not necessarily the considerations that maybe a parents would want to have prior to. I do both actually. So for example, I'm right now I'm working with an adoptive parent who was going through the through and she's doing a different kind of adoption where it's a child that children that she actually knows.

And so she is doing a, it's not a direct cuz she, it's just a child. Civic is what they refer to it as. So say for example, you have a relationship, say you're friends with the foster parent, or say you are family friends to a child that is going to be placed for adoption. You could.

Theoretically put yourself in the pool and if you have a home study, there's sometimes they're not gonna wait for you to be ready. If the child is ready then we need, that child needs a home now. But say you are already considering adoption and all of a sudden that child becomes available, which happens from time to time, then because you have a preexisting relationship with that.

You could be considered, they're still gonna look at all of the factors all of the things that would make you a suitable parent for that child, because we don't just, we don't just place a child with an expectation that, oh, you can meet their needs now we have to look at, can you meet their needs long term?

And that might be based on their various risk factors or genetic moding for different, concerns or things down the. Okay. So that's really interesting cuz this is like a very unknown field for myself. It's not something that I necessarily work with. Would you say there's a lot of children that are in foster care in the province of bc?

Yeah, I don't know what the stats are right now. Now, not all of those children are available for adoption the ministry has taken a really big shift in trying to place children with family members or trying to find kind of those child specific placements. So connections already with family members or with with people that are close to that child or making arrangements with k.

So that would be maybe more of a legal transfer of custody versus doing adoptions. So it's more to keep people, keep children out of the system. Versus, so that might actually happen much sooner before that child. It's even deemed that child might need an extended or long-term kinda placement.

Okay. So the world is shift. And a lot of that, even just within indigenous communities, keeping children within their communities and such as it's very important. Okay. And so my understanding is like what you're saying is a lot more encouragement or trying to keep the families in their original household as long as possible.

Yes. Or with it with, within their communities or with people that they're connected to. So sometimes kids based on, depending on the circumstances, can't always stay at home. But they could stay with man or they could stay with a neighbor, or they could stay with a relative just somebody that they already have a connection to.

Yeah. And so from a mental health perspective, like why would that be so important? Those attachments, right? And that familiarity that the context of the community, if you think how much you gained from your community, it's not just your parents, right? It's the norms within the area you grew up in.

For example, moving a child from From a remote community to a city, that would be a pretty big adjustment for that child. Where if you could keep that child living in a similar kind of environment, depending on whether that's safe. I've had circumstances where there was an adoption placement of a child where the parents had come to bc, but were from a remote community in Quebec.

And when we, when the worker finally was able to approach the community to see was there any way of repatriating that child to their community, was there somebody there that could care for the child? The response was, this isn't a healthy place for this child right now. And so that child wasn't returned to their community, which.

it was very sad. And then we had to find, home that would, support that child's, cultural means as well. So it gets complex and I think there's a lot more guidance around, keeping kids within their cultural community. There's a lot more red tape, so to speak, to adopt a child that is not of the same culture.

Which is a good thing because it's making us really, consider all of the things that create that sense of, even that sense of identity, that sense of self as that child grows up, which is a lot of the work that I end up doing with adults, adoptees down the road. Just to answer your question about about the work that, you know, at what stage do I enter so I can enter in early as they're preparing as that adoptive parent is preparing, whether they're working through the issues that would impede their.

Approval of a home study or whether just preparing them they do go through an adoption education program. So oftentimes they're front loaded with a lot of information. But what happens is when they're actually in their lived experience of parenting those children that have experienced trauma, then that's when they need a bit more support.

So sometimes I can do that, individually, like with those families, or I. Created a course which I created in my in grad school. We had to do a group designer. I was like, I wanna do something that's really meaningful and useful to the work that I'm doing right now. And we just saw this gap in service of supporting families once children had actually been placed in their homes.

So that, whether that's six months or two years, or five years down the road, and they're all of a sudden coming across, behavioral challenge. Or regulation issues and things like that. Then we wanted to equip them. So that's where the trauma tuned parent course comes in. Okay.

Yeah. So I'd love to hear about what type of challenges are coming up that you really notice post-adoption. Yeah. It varies so considerably, right? And considering, the genetic loading, we could have concerns around mental health already preloaded. And we always talk about mental health as being like a predisposition and then a trigger, right?

And and so sometimes that can just be a developmental trigger, new stage of life. Sometimes that can be, something that, that happens in their life, and other times it is. Where prolonged trauma that they've experienced is already starting to expose kind of those cracks.

And so in early childhood, we may get a lot of diagnoses, and as some of those di some of those diagnoses are often mixed up with trauma. And so you end up with, the oppositional defiance disorder, A D H D. There's new labels for things these days but really ultimately what we're looking at is an basically emotional dysregulation that is really based on their physiology and how they are developmentally managing.

Kind of the external and internal kind of stressors in their life. And so supporting parents through behavioral challenges or through a lack of connection that they might have with their child. We know just from the work of Gordon New felt that there's a lot of conditions that are required in order to form like a really deep attachment.

I love his analogy. He uses kind. Plant analogy or where the roots have to go deep enough in order for that attachment to be really secure. And oftentimes when you have a child who's experienced trauma, they tend to have more surface attachments. And that's to things, to peers. To maybe they have a very, tenuous attachment because they don't know how to trust, because their trust has been broken.

Maybe not intentionally. Maybe it was a parent that, passed away. Or maybe it was a parent that struggled with addiction and and so they didn't know consistently whether they were, have their needs match and so they. Learn to not trust that their needs are gonna get met. And so oftentimes when I talk about behavior, I talk about your child is doing their very best to have their needs met in the ways that they know how.

And so essentially, my, the whole I think the whole idea around the trauma team, Parent course is really just to shift the lens in which we see our child, cuz it's really easy because parenting is such a reciprocal kind of experience. It's really easy to feel like our children are manipulating us or they're doing things on purpose, or they're just, a naughty child or whatever.

When really what they're doing is their very best to manage everything that's happening within the. . And so how do we support them through that? How do we provide them that sense of security, that sense of self identity is a huge piece with kids that have been adopted in particular. , that's amazing.

And I really appreciate this idea of how you're saying shift the lens from. I don't know what the right adjective would be, but more of a compassionate or understanding lens and understanding there is a lot of effort from the way that the children are interacting, even though it may not surface level appear in that way.

So would you say like the work of Gordon Neuf filed really inspired that way that the course is built? Yes, absolutely. There's a few there's Dr. Gordon Newfeld, there's Dr. Daniel Siegel, Dr. Bruce Perry. Those are Dr. Karen Purvis. She did a lot of work with children in foster care and adoption.

Those are definitely some of my. My inspirations. And a lot of the, a lot of, the ideas come from that as well. As, from other research that is out there, I've done I'm an E F T which is emotion focused family therapy workshop facilitator. And so I, I teach emotion coaching and that, even just when I was doing the research for this course it was one of the primary approaches that a lot of the successful parenting programs out there incorporated and it so resonates with me.

And it's amazing. It's actually such a, this whole idea of this validation skill and this emotion coaching has Inspired me to actually bring it into my couple's work as well because I think it's a skill that is useful everywhere. And but particularly in parenting, kids that aren't maybe as well connected to their own emotional states, they don't necessarily understand, what it is that they're feeling.

Maybe when they're. When they're sad, it comes out like anger, or when they're angry, they start crying. They're their emotional state get mixed up. And so they don't know how to identify and share and then express what their, how to get their needs met. And so when we emotion coach, then we are basically supporting our kids to understand what's happening inside here.

What might, what they might need. And from there we get, it's like teaching I hate to use this analogy cause I just told you I use this with adults, but it's teaching toddlers language, right? So we're giving kids, if you think about your toddler and how they would freak out and meltdown and have these moments, and then all of a sudden, once they have language, and it's like they can actually tell you, they don't have to show you.

And that's what I think about when I think about emotion coaching. It's like we're giving kids emotional language so that they no longer have to show us through these behaviors that are really distressing to us, or really almost like repellent, which is in some ways that serves the function of if I, as a child, So much shame, I'm gonna make sure that I drive you away so that I can be alone in my shame, because that's a really ugly thing to show people.

And so that's another piece of kind of what we talked about in this course. And a lot of the emotion focus work comes in this course of who would be like the ideal client or recipient of this course, just to kinda let anyone know out there who's listening, if they're looking for something in this way is this the right fit for them?

What would you. It's funny because originally this course was built for adoptive. And and it has, it is essentially involved over the years. So originally for foster parent or adoptive parents, and then we opened it up to foster parents and then we realized, you know what, this is really just for any parent whose child has experienced trauma, and I think it's done in a sensitive enough way that it, you know, even.

You were a part of the trauma. So maybe it's a parent who has experienced addiction and their child suffered because they weren't able to meet their needs during that time. Or maybe crazy things were happening around them. Or maybe of a child who has witnessed domestic violence. or maybe you have a child that lived somewhere else before they lived with you.

Or maybe there was, another parent who was abusive. And now you're parenting this child, maybe even independently, but maybe they're still going back to that environment. Those are all reusable participants of this course. So really it's it's for I think I would say maybe I would say, I don't wanna say zero. I think we don't necessarily address infancy, but I would say like from two 10 to 18 is the age range that I would consider. However we don't specifically address like developmental differences. So people that have like I, I would say we don't address it specifically, like if a person has diagnosed F A S D or things like that.

But I think that if you consider your child and how you know your child and you can make the appropriate adaptations, then it would be, it would absolutely be appropriate. Okay. This is so wonderful. And I'm just sit sitting here listening and I can even think of some clients and parents that I've worked with that would really benefit from this course.

And I can just see how inspired you are by it and the reason behind creating it. So that's just so wonderful. And just, I think like you're saying, it really expanded over time because in my mind, I think what may happen, and this, I don't know how true this is, but just the exhaustion of parenting.

Sometimes it's just. Feeding children, getting them to school, and just like the day to day that sometimes a lot of that emotion focused work gets really missed or that true understanding of a child. And we both align within our trauma work within an e mdr. And I bet you can agree that many of the earlier childhood experiences are, the touchdown memories are that moment of lack of secure attachment with a caregiver or a primary caregiver.

And so it's really wonderful that it's going like a bit of a restart or a reintegration of, Hey, this is how you could really support your child, your whoever you're taking care of at that time, and really how to understand and have the emotional literacy for emotions and how to regulate emotions and express them in a helpful way.

Totally. And the one thing I always talk about it with relational trauma, the primary mode of healing is actually through relationship. And so when we talk about, when we talk to parents about it's actually, you, we wanna work with. Not your child when they get a bit frustrated, because I think that a lot of parents just wanna send their child to therapy and have us fix them, and that's just not, if I think about it like you spend 24 7 with your child or, outside of school or whatnot.

But and I, me spending an hour with your child a week, It's not gonna have the same effect, right? From a emotion focused family therapy, they talk about how I might get the story a little bit mixed up, but I'll give you the basics of it. This woman had gone had a car accident and a therapist they were doing this research.

They had this therapist sit and hold this woman's hand while she was getting an. And say all of the perfect things, right? This is so hard for you and, go on. And and they, as they were doing the m r I, there were like, these sparks, like little sparks happening, you could tell like that she was responding to the comments and so on.

Then they brought in Spelman's partner and they had this woman's partner sit there and hold her hand and say, All of the imperfect things, , but was present and just like trying their hardest. Wasn't this like fluid and formulated as the therapist and those brains were on that brain. M r I was on fire.

So we give this analogy because it's like, , it's, even though you may not do it as perfectly, and I'll teach, I'll walk through examples with the parents I work with and walk through an emotion coach with them and they'll be like, ah, I wish you were just like in the room with me and you could tell me what to say and whatever.

And I'm like, Yeah, but me saying it in my words is not merely gonna be as impactful as you saying it in your imperfect words. You are the one that makes the difference. And so teaching parents to become the therapist, so we call it basically therapeutic parenting is way more effective than me doing that one hour a week.

Yeah, what an amazing story and example and just writing when listening FMRIs is when they're showing like the highlight and the activation in the brain and those sorts of things. Yeah. And so it's so interesting that despite having that person that has such a strong attachment with you and saying not quite the right things, it, there's still so much for activation and connection happening.

And it's almost interesting cuz it makes me think of this idea that someone that we have a strong attachment with will hurt. Solve much deeper than usually someone like a stranger, right? Because we have that attachment, it's so much more important and it's really showing like the needs for parents to really step up and be that therapeutic approach.

would you say that you also align a little bit from the trauma approach of Gabo Matte as well and his work? Oh, absolutely. Sorry I shouldn't, I have multiple books on my show right in front of me here. . Yes, absolutely. In fact, I've done his compassionate inquiry training. Ugh.

Thank goodness. If you ever wanna go to an amazing trainee and training and watch. 30 live, therapy sessions in front of you, go to his training. It's amazing. But yeah, definitely and even just I think the piece that we haven't really touched on is that each of us as parents come into the relationship.

As a parent with our own experiences. And I've actually done a course on the book that's based off of the book, not it, it's not available out there anywhere, so don't go looking for it. But it's it's parenting from the inside out. I'd highly recommend it as a book. And it's really looking at like how our own experiences impact us as a parent.

So even just things as like our memory templates and how we are so easily triggered. Things that our kids do. And again, that kind of goes back to and I think both Dr. Gabo and Dr. Daniel Siegel, talk about that reciprocal parenting. If we are parenting a really difficult child, think about how incompetent you feel.

right? And how can your child not pick up on, my parent doesn't know how to handle me, which then is gonna elicit a different response. It's gonna elicit kind of an insecure response, and maybe they're not gonna come to us with things which is gonna elicit a response from us. And then it's it's.

This tumbleweed effect, right? Like it's just gonna get bigger and bigger and and so learning how to respond in ways that maybe are counterintuitive for us, and then also figuring out how can we regulate our own system going in. I think about all of my bad parenting moments. , almost all of them are about me, not about my kid.

I, they're, I can't reflect and go, oh my gosh, she was so naughty that day. She is so terrible. It's usually oh my gosh, I was so dysregulated. I had so much going on. I was not very patient. I, it's usually about me. And so that's a lot of the work that I'm often doing with parents as.

it's really about like how as a parent interacts with the child, not necessarily the child's behavior. It's like how that flow of relationship is. So I'd love to ask you a question that I've been asked by clients many time just to have your take on it. The question usually is like when I speak about trauma and how this idea of the grandparents parent, the parents and the parents parent the children, and if the grandparents were struggling, then sometimes that can affect.

the children. So the next generation down, and like then when we talk about that, clients usually ask me that if I pair now the great-grandchildren, can I stop that cycle? Yeah. But would you say, I think, I would say you can shift that cycle. . Absolutely. I think you can stop the cycles of abuse and so on.

We're always in a cycle. We're always like, even if you think about. , what your parents did was probably better than what their parents did, right? We're always trying to do better, but say, in my experience of parenting I don't think my mother was a terrible mother. She was doing the very best that she could.

But there are certain things that I try to do differently for my mother. And sure enough, as I go through and I start to learn new things, I almost inevitably have this little wash of shame that comes over me. So particularly when I first started learning about trauma as I was training as a social worker, and I started to have these moments of oh oh my goodness I do that.

Have I messed up my kid Or learning things about what things that happened to me. Oh, how messed up am I? How am I gonna be a good mother? And I think even when I learned the learned, the emotion coaching skill, I had this moment and my daughter was 15 when I learned emotion coaching.

and I remember thinking like, I needed this when she was five. Like, why is it that I'm only learning this now? So I think it's unrealistic to, yes, I believe we can stop the cycle. I think it's unrealistic to think that we aren't perpetuating just a new cycle, and it's okay. , right? Because, we are always doing the best that we can.

I think that there are particularly, cycles in families that are, where there's abuse or where there's, maybe substance use or where there's any of the isms, the racism and so on. We can stop those cycles. We can stop that generational trauma from continuing on.

. I think inevitably, we have to accept that we just have to do the best with the information that we know now. And so even when I teach the Trauma Chain Parent course it's always with that understanding of there's gonna be new things that you're gonna learn and some of these are gonna fit for you and some of them won't, and you are probably already doing some really good things that are working for your child.

Don't stop doing those things just because I'm teaching you something. I really love that answer too cuz it's really helpful cuz a lot of parents or individuals that I meet, they go is this gonna be able to change for me? Am I gonna be able to do enough? And I really resonated with that idea of that wash of shame.

But it's once you are like, have the light. Bulb moment perhaps of like how to maybe do it better despite already always trying to do one's best. So from the therapy modalities that use, could you give some examples of how you would maybe support a person in that situation of trying to reduce or stop that cycle of intergenerational trauma?

Yeah, for sure. I think that probably one of my primary modalities for treating trauma is mdr. , and I'm actually trained with Laura Par, Laura Parnell's attachment based emdr, which I always just describe to my to the individuals I work with is just it's more relational, it's more intimate.

It's more bringing in. What you needed then now. And so oftentimes we're we are working with, yeah, those internalized beliefs we have about ourselves. And just for example, I'm working with a young woman and her belief about herself is I don't deserve to take up space. . And so if you think about how that individual goes out into the world, they're like tentative.

They, and even just thinking about, she's not a parent at this stage of her life, but when she becomes a parent, does she tend to overcompensate or does she tend to, maybe she becomes this gushing parent that is like doing, trying to do the opposite of what her experience was.

And maybe not in a healthy way, right? And so in that case what we are doing is we are taking that belief and we're like I was talking about creating an umbrella over that experience or that belief of I don't deserve to take up space. And that's where that three-prong approach of the first worst and the most recent, right?

But then we also integrate, the protect. And the nurturer, right? And the wise advisor. And oftentimes I also bring in their wise, wiser adult self. So maybe that's the adult self that's 20 years from now that's gonna have all of the wisdom about the challenges that they've gone through and that knows, or I have, kids that I work with where it's five years from now when this doesn't matter anymore, this is what I would.

Tell myself now. Things like that. So oftentimes we're we, I do I call it a skipping stone history. And so we'll do a little bit of a developmental attachment history and kind of gather the main themes of the traumas that they've experienced in their life. And I talk about Big T and little T Traumas.

The big Ts being, oh, my parents got divorced, or I was a car accident, or, the things that we can really put our finger on. But then also the little Ty traumas, that persistent invalidation of my feelings or. The, the persistent low level bullying that happened throughout my life, or, not being encouraged, and the impact that those things have.

And then we look at, which ones really aligned with kind of. What's getting in the way of them living their best life right now, or what's getting in the way of them parenting. The way that they want to. Maybe it's because they have this really big trigger because of something that happened with them when they were little.

If there's a definitive, kind of thing that we can put our finger on, they'll work through, those things. But sometimes it's so pervasive, it's not even, something that we can put our finger on and say, oh, it was when that happened, then my world shifted, or whatever. . So definitely because it's like that.

When you say that belief of I don't deserve to hold space, or it's very much not, when I explain to individuals, I always do a discussion of what a belief is, and I try and conceptualize it for them in terms of percentage. You never want a hundred percent belief that because there's no, like you're able to lean into the logical, intelligent part of your brain that kind of goes this doesn't really make sense.

but there is a strong percentage that emotionally believes that and has the evidence to support that. And so it becomes really a challenge to find those memories, like the evidence that supports that beliefs and that created that adaptive idea and belief to h hold that. And then how that shows up in different current experiences or thoughts of the future.

Totally. You're just you make me, as you talk like that, you make me think about Dr. Gabo man's compassionate inquiry and how he , he can take that, say that experience, that feeling that you have right now, and say can you think about like how old you feel.

And so the person says I feel like I was, I'm seven and I'm getting scolded by my mother, or whatever. And then even just de defining what did you have to do back then to survive that, and then he does this thing where, I almost imagined like, oh my gosh, can you like, give yourself a pat on the back?

Like what a brave and intelligent seven year old you were, that you knew that you needed to adapt that. Behavior and whatever in order to survive that really difficult experience. Wow can you just thank that part of yourself? Yeah. That was just so incredibly brave, right?

, I wonder if you can now tell that part of yourself, Frank. I'm safe now and I don't need to keep doing that. And it's I'm really like shrinking down this Yeah. The words, I have to say, he does these 10 minute long like therapy sessions that are just like, blow your mind and shift people's perspectives and whatnot.

But really that sense of what, what can we thank ourselves for? In, in having survived difficult circumstances and now be able to put that in its rightful place and say be, have it become part of your story. I just worked with this young man who we've been doing some e ntr around An experience of bullying and now his sibling is in the same boat and he's never been able to fully share his story with his parents because he would always break down crying.

And this last time when it happened to his brother, he was able to go to his parents to say, Hey, look. , this is what really happened to me. This is how it impacted me. And he, as he's telling me this, he's saying, and I told her just like this, like it was just a part of my story. Whereas previously, like in the beginning when he first shared this part of his story, it was like tears streaming down his face.

Like he couldn't share the whole story. . And so that's what that reprocessing of that trauma does. And I think about like how much of what we carry from our childhoods into our parenting is really, that internal, it points to that internal work that we need to address within ourselves.

And I think that's where the real healing. For our children or our grandchildren, if you will is when we do that work for ourselves. Definitely. And just when you were speaking, it inspired me this idea of the gobo inspired protocol almost pre M d r because as you were describing it, I'm like, let's add some b l s right there because that sounds so pinking.

I'm like, oh, I do Adam. Yeah. They'll sound like some really wonderful interweaves or resourcing. To install that and along with all of like Laura Lauren Parnell's attachment figures. And so I'll just like express what that is briefly here. It's like this idea that we can install an attachment figure, so it might be a person that we really know and can conceptualize or an imagining person that we create that we're longing for the, provide that sense of safety and security and we can use.

Bilateral stimulation to install that figure to guide us and help us through our own individual processing reprocessing and desensitization. , it's really wonderful how you're expressing this idea of like how as a parent we have to be at peace with our own challenges to be able to be most at peace within our parenting styles.

But I do wanna jokingly reassure any parent out there that you're always doing your best because I think that sometimes you can create some induced fear with this idea of, oh my goodness I'm not quite meeting up to the standard or needs. , I think it's always just number one having compassion and number two, just constantly trying to be mindful and aware, just checking in, cuz I think autopilot happens a lot in their day-to-day life, right?

It's the Monday to Friday next thing it's Friday evening at six o'clock and you're like, where did the week go? And yeah. We're busy weekend ahead still and that's when everyone says, time passes so quickly. So it's just taking those moments to, to check in. Absolutely. . Yeah. And that's a big part of this course too, is just again, trying to gain that, that individual perspective and taking those moments, teaching our kids mindfulness even so that we're, maybe we're practicing it in front of them so they, they are also seeing it.

And then I often will talk about, I know when gentleman I worked with, probably the biggest learning for him was that the space between a reaction and a response, Was five breaths. Yeah, like to change from a reaction to a response was like taking five deep breaths. Sometimes it's only three and that's enough.

Just before he goes in and responds to his kids because it is just oftentimes what's going on within us that comes out versus what's actually happening with our child in that moment. Definitely. I think that's a really wonderful idea to understand because a lot of the times within emotions we think.

something happens like a situation or a stressor or whatnot, and then we think something, and then we feel something and then we do something right. But a lot of times, if we're not really slowing it down enough, it, we feel as though something happens and then we do something, the reaction. But we really have to learn how to slow that down and learn that gap between.

Reaction and like another response that is more in tune with what you really wanna be putting out or in which ways you really wanna be parenting your child. Absolutely. And all of that also comes down to like, how are we caring for ourselves as parents? And oftentimes, I even ask that question in my intake.

It's what are your coping strategies? . And some of them are like, all right they got it down. They got lots of things that otherwise it's Sleep, eat, drink, , and it's okay, so we need to expand, imagine that those coping skills. And so just even one of the things I often implement with people that have dysregulation even within themselves is just okay, so every two hours can we do a regulating activity?

Yeah. Just something that brings you, and it's that idea of can we teach your brain? How to reg that it, or can we remind your brain that it knows how to regulate? Yeah. And so just that, but just with that consistency, I think I had this awesome supervisor one time who used to have the, like the mindfulness bell on her phone and it would go off every hour.

And I swear it didn't matter whether she was in a meeting or in supervision with you or with a client when it went. She stopped and she would say, I'm sorry, I just have to take a moment to do my mindfulness breathing. And then she would take a couple of deep breaths and guaranteed you're gonna do it with her.

Because it was awkward to not . And it was just like I think it just resonated so much with me just, and she was probably the most then peaceful, person I've ever met in my life. And just how like each of us can bring that in some small. Into our lives. I refer to myself as a lazy meditator,

So I'm like, I always pick like the one to five minute meditations Yes. On my apps and stuff like that. And that's, what each, some people great. Good for you if you can do 20 minutes or half an hour. But you know what? Sometimes all we need. is a minute to five minutes to just, yes.

Because I, I think oftentimes parents get a little overwhelmed with what? I have to go meditate and, whatever. And it's no, you take like once, sometimes they'll say, go into the bathroom and blast your favorite song. , so you can't hear any of the distractions out there. and just enjoy that song for like however long it is.

Two and a half, three minutes. For sure. And I think you really highlight the importance of a client may say I regulate through exercise, but that exercise of 30 minutes to an hour may not always be available. So we need some quicker or less energy inducing coping skills such as meditation.

And the second part being having the acceptance that it's okay to take that time and that we don't need to frown upon like having to regulate versus, it's a blessing to be able to regulate. Absolutely. Yeah. And especially, if we have the wherewithal to be like, okay, like I am not in a good space right now.

I say, as long as your child is. Take that moment to regulate. If they're not safe, create safety, then regulate, then go back and actually respond to the situation. Exactly. Yeah. I love that reaction versus response for sure. That's so important. So is there anything else that you wanted to share about your wonderful course that you created that we've missed that you feel should really be highlight?

Perhaps we can share the link for it. Yeah, we definitely do that. It's six. Yeah. I think one of the things when I was creating it, I really wanted to make it approachable. So it's actually and digestible, so it's actually six modules, but they're all broken up into individual lessons and after each lesson there's a handout that has all.

Primary material summarized as well as has. There's an integration little video that comes afterwards, which basically talks about like how you can actually integrate this into your week or into your day and gives you a little bit of a homework piece, maybe something to think about for yourself.

It's very short, very bite size, I think. Can't remember the longest module or the longest lesson might be like 17 minutes, but on, on average they're about 10 minutes each. And so just really accessible. I've actually, one, one population group that I didn't really talk about was like staffed resources.

And that's another great great resource for those staff members as well. And it's also a course where, you know, yes, they build on each other, but it's also if you. I know I've done tons of courses on this area. You could skip ahead and go to pieces or you could go oh, we don't have any sleep problems, so I don't need to do this one.

So in that way it's well highlighted, what the, what you would gain from watching this module. And so it makes it just that much easier for busy caregivers. Yeah, that sounds so wonderful and such a helpful resource as, as well. Yeah. Yeah. So far we've today talked about adoption, the process of adoption, what that kind of looks like within the province of BC and some challenges that both the children and the adoptive parents or caregivers would have, and the wonderful deep dive into trauma and the course that you've created.

So much wonderful things that we've discussed today. Was there anything else that we're missing or that you wanted to chat about for a few minutes or anything else you needed to high.

I think may, yeah, no pressure. I was asking about one of the one of the population groups that I, that we haven't is a little bit unique but still falls within the same realm is I've been doing a lot more perinatal work recently. Yeah. In, in particular through Covid I think a lot of clients that I, that were coming to me were individuals that were like parenting newborns, or were pregnant.

And then gave birth during the pandemic. And so a lot of isolation. A lot of post pregnancy anxiety and depression and it just I think it just highlighted again a lot of the work that E M D R is so powerful in I've worked with a lot of birth trauma pregnancy loss working through, again, some of those beliefs that we have about ourselves as parents are coming into a new role.

It's just such a unique experie. That. And I think given all the additional stressors that we have there out in the world, and particular, I have clients that have, developed a lot of fear because of covid and different things like health fear and things like that. That's been just another population group that I have just grown really passionate about and really trying to do a lot of extra research around and so on just to make sure that I'm really serving that popul.

And yeah, it's I don't know if that's really something to add, but just something that I think is such a it's a more unique experience than I think we recognize just that parenting and isolation during this time. And just even surrounding our support networks have become a lot smaller.

Because maybe we're limiting the number of contacts that we have when we have a newborn and so on. And the rules that people have around visitors and things like that can cause a lot of friction in families. So supporting new parents with that as well is has been a new part of my practice.

Yeah. That's so wonderful. And I can just see again, so passionate about that topic. And it's interesting that as the world changes in things happen in society, like a lot of times as clinicians we shift or we become really inspired in a different direction, which is I would say a perk of our field is I knew when I was stepping into this field that it wouldn't always be the same.

Like you can grow and change and step into new disciplines or challenges and different sorts of learnings and modalities. So it's really wonderful that you've been able to connect and really serve and support that population as well, cuz I can imagine how isolating it would be to have one of the most joyous times of your life of expecting a child or having a newborn and not being able to really connect, in the same way, like I always imagine, like having going to like parents and baby classes or celebrating the birth of your child with parties.

really that social aspect, and it would sounds like very isolating to have that experience. And so I'm thankful. Yeah. Thinking about what your mat leave was gonna look like, right? And then all of a sudden, this is what it looks like. It's, yeah. Huge. For sure. . Heather, I really appreciate you coming on today.

I feel like I've learned so much and I hope that everyone listening really learned a lot or had something really that resonated with them. You've mentioned so many great resources so I really appreciate your time today. Thank you. Really appreciate it as well. Yeah, wonderful.