The moment it clicks for parents in therapy is one of those incredibly rewarding times. From the first day of enrollment, therapists are explaining the model for therapy and the principles of a Relationship Based Approach. The parents are more than not overwhelmed and simply need to be authentically heard and have a time to express their frustrations and emotional journey. As the relationship develops, the therapist focuses on bringing to light the impact of genuine acceptance and the students difficulty with transforming a negative core belief into a positive one.
The therapist then concentrates on providing parents with the basic model of being able to use empathy, nonjudgmental curiosity, and attunement to create an experience of safety. This approach is often a huge shift in thinking, acting, and reacting. The good news is that the therapist has been modeling this approach not only with the student but with the parents as well. As the therapist models, their goal is to transition the parents to be the one who guides their student toward genuine vulnerability, openness, empathy, and acceptance.
As the goal of transition takes place, parents often get stuck in the behavioral band where blaming, victimizing, anger, advice giving, and lecturing take place. Being stuck in the behavioral band is a familiar place which aggravates parents and actually is preferred by the student. The parents often need clarity and repetition to identify when they are getting stuck. Frequently, the parents lose sight of the objective which is to move through the behavioral band and access genuine emotions. The therapist job is to facilitate parents to safely guide the student (empathy, curiosity, and attunement) to reach a place of regulation and vulnerability (emotional band) and then bring it all together by engaging in an experience of acceptance.
It takes time and dedication for all three parties to practice this ability to identify behaviors, genuinely explore emotions, and then have it culminate in an experience of acceptance. As the family becomes more proficient, there comes a time when the parents are able to actuate the process. This moment is when it actually clicks and parents recognize that their student and themselves have actually gone beyond just talking about things and have created a priceless experience. The reaction of parents when this moment happens is exciting because they can feel that they are able to generate authentic connection. This ability to create movement is the foundation for accessing safety and trust within the relationship at home.
The family will continue to practice this process over and over again, but the more it happens the more attuned the relationship becomes. This attunement reassures the student that they are worthy of being loved and deserve to be in a trusting and intimate relationship. This process becomes more refined overtime and both parents and student recognize the relational value that has been established.
The moment it clicks is extremely exciting not only for parents but for therapist as well because an ability to create genuine intimacy and change becomes more than possible, it becomes a reality.