Advice for Calo Parents – Q&A with Calo Therapist-extraordinaire Cecily Mitchell
What are some of the most important things you think if parents understood early on would get parents onboard quicker and improve treatment success?
Progress is going to be slow. And there are going to be moments that feel really awesome – don't get your hopes up too much, because the whole two steps forward one step back thing is really true. Our kids get scared of change, even when it feels good and like what they should be doing, they will go back to their old behaviors many times prior to actually making the changes needed.If you as the parent are not bought in, then your child is going sense that just as a wild animal senses fear and they are not going to buy in either. This will result in a lack of change, and you being really dissatisfied with Calo. We are here to serve you and we want to help and 100% believe this is the route of change for your child. But if we do not have your support – this process is not going to work. That being said, you are going to be confused and question a lot of things – that is great! Question them to your therapist though, not your child. Have appropriate boundaries with it.
If you could give one piece of advice to your parents when they first enroll what would it be?
Take a deep breath, hold on, and be willing and eager to learn. It's a lot, and it feels counter-intuitive at times, but just try it before you think it isn't going to work.
What is the hardest thing to get through to parents?
Change doesn't happen overnight. We aren't going to "fix" your child, we are going to change your family dynamic. This isn't just about the child, it's about the entire family system.
What are the three most important things you think a parent should know and understand about their child?
Their past, which is a lot of unknown, is impacting the now. Remember that, and try to have a heart of peace and seek to understand your child. Yes you are the expert on their behaviors at home, but we are the experts on working through their trauma so those behaviors go away.
What should parents know and understand about treatment and the Calo model?
We need to help parents understand what empathy is, and help them to have empathy with other people. Having empathy with their child is going to be the hardest part because most of the time they are so angry and hurt. If they can take some steps back and really look at the big picture, then they can start to have empathy. Every student I had would say that when their parent slowed down to understand them and stopped giving them advice, they actually started feeling understood and wanted to share with their parents.
What is needed for treatment success?
Your participation, parent participation. Parents need to be having their own therapy. They also really need a working relationship with their Calo therapist.
What clinical information is important for families to know?
We are trained by the experts in the field. We do know why this model works. We are working with them not against them.
What is enmeshment and why is it so dangerous?
This leads to parents struggling with having their own identity, along with their child struggling to have their own identity. It's okay to be your own person. You don't have to feel what your child is feeling to understand them.
Can you give me some practical examples of what it may look like? How can we combat enmeshment? How can we identify it?
Some practical examples of enmeshment – when your child dictates when they come home from treatment, when they get a cell phone, who they are going to hang out with. No. You are the parent. You and the treatment team decide when your child is ready to come home. You determine when they have showed enough time and evidence to have a cell phone – if they get mad about it…guess what, they aren't ready to come home. To combat enmeshment you need to be sure that you are setting firm boundaries and sticking to them! You can see them when the child "gets their way" and then still has blow ups over little stuff. When you are not enmeshed the little things don't seem to matter as much anymore.