Over the years, I have come to learn that the cure for any kind of burnout, life burnout, work burnout, parenting burnout is two-fold. One part is incorporating self-care into your everyday routine so that it is no longer a question of whether you have time for it, it is just something you do, just like you get dressed in the morning. The second part of burnout prevention and or recovery is training and education. Often we feel burnt out because we feel ineffective at what we do, we wonder if we are doing our job, whether it be our job as parents, as part of a couple, as part of our employment or something else, well.
Recently I was able to have a few days of burnout prevention when I went to two wonderful continuing education workshops as well as taught my own full day training to other professionals, and, every teacher knows, when you are teaching, you are also learning. It’s always with very cautious optimism that I enter a training day, especially with someone I have never learned from and even more so when it has to do with something I find incredibly intimidating…brain functioning. I’ve always hoped just to be able to send healing messages to the subconsious rather than figure out the in’s and out’s of the ways the brain works. It turns out though that with the right teachers this stuff is actually pretty fascinating and even someone who shys away from science can learn a lot. What I learned was the reasons why much of what we do in working with building secure attachments between parents and children is so important to overall healthy brain functioning and just how much children have to teach us about the ways we learn and grow best. In my two trainings, the first with Terry Levy and Mark Owen from the Evergreen Clinic in Colorado, I learned about healing adult attachment related issues. In the second training, with Daniel Hughes and John Baylin, I learned about using our knowledge of brain functioning to help children with early insecure attachment styles. And now, I’m going to share some of what they taught me with you. By no means am I giving you all the information these guys taught me and I would highly recommend you see them should they come to your town. They all do trainings for both professionals and for parents.
Don’t Flip Your Lid!
Hold your hand in front of you with your thumb tucked in
Curl your fingers down around your thumb.
You are looking at a rough replica of your brain. There are three basic parts: 1. The back of your hand to your wrist represents your brain stem, which is responsible mainly for your body’s basic functioning (breathing, circulation, etc.); 2. Your thumb, tucked there in the middle, represents your limbic system. I think of your limbic system as your “first responders.” If you have heard of people in the midst of a crisis or threat having a fight, flight or freeze reaction, this is coming from your limbic system. Your limbic system takes in and interprets information way faster than any other part of your brain and it does not, for example, think first then shoot later, it sees danger and responds to get you out of danger quickly. 3. Your fingers represent your frontal lobe. They are the part of the brain that develops last and give us the ability to reflect on our actions, make more complicated, thoughtful decisions and maintain self control. This part of the brain is still developing well into our twenties.
Obviously I have made this brain thing about as basic as it gets. If you would like a longer lesson, click here and watch Dan Seigal, neuroscientist extraordinaire explain it in more detail.
Now, if you still have your fingers curled around your thumb I want you to lift them up again, we’ll call your finger your “lid.” John Baylin taught us that in large part as children much of our growing up process involves learning not to “flip your lid” or, in other words, not to allow our limbic system to work in a state of constant response, but rather to keep our “lid” intact, using our frontal lobe to think in more complex ways and to reflect upon what we did, are doing and would like to do. This job is a task we all must work on and we certainly know (or are) adults that flip that lid quite a bit when presented with a stresser. The problem is that once our lid is flipped, we have to figure out how to put it back on, this is how we develop strong coping and problem solving skills.
Stay tuned for more posts explaining about the ways in which our brains function and how to help children with attachment disorders that have caused delayed brain development to rework those neural passage ways and literally rewrite your child’s attachment script.
- PLACE Parenting (help4yourfamily.com)
- The Spectrum of Attachment (help4yourfamily.com)
- The Art of Breathing (help4yourfamily.com)
Kate Oliver, LCSW-C (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) has been a clinician working with traumatized and attachment-disturbed children for the last thirteen years. She is co-owner of A Healing Place, a successful private practice in Columbia, Maryland, since 2007.
Kate earned her BA from Goucher College in 1997 and her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland in Baltimore in 2000. Kate first worked with the Sexual Trauma, Treatment, Advocacy and Recovery Center (STTAR Center) working with abused and neglected children in Columbia, Maryland. While working for the STTAR Center, Kate found that while some children responded to traditional child therapy practices, there were a significant number of children who showed little or no improvement in their overall emotional well-being. Kate sought out specialized training to learn more about attachment, the bond between parents and children, and found that by using attachment-based strategies built upon research by John Bowlby, and Mary Ainsworth, and models that foster parent/child attachment, even the most challenging children and their parents, saw major, life-changing shifts, not only for the children she was working with, but the parents as well.
After the STTAR Center, Kate accepted a position with Tamar’s Children, a program that took pregnant, incarcerated women from prison to a treatment facility that worked on teaching the women to bond with and attach to their babies, while also helping the women to heal their own broken attachments, and history of trauma and addiction. Kate was quickly promoted to Clinical Director of Tamar’s Children. The program was internationally recognized for having a successful, evidence-based practice using an attachment-based model. From working with some of the most severely disenfranchised parents, Kate received important information about how to help all parents maintain a happy, healthy relationship with their children with little or no additional financial investment for the parents.
In 2007, Kate co-founded A Healing Place, a mental health private group practice in Columbia, Maryland, where she focuses on working with families with children who have a history of trauma and/or attachment disturbances. A board certified supervisor, Kate has been an invited presenter to teach continuing education courses for other social workers and psychologists. In her courses, Kate teaches attachment-building techniques and presents about her sub-specialty, working with families headed by gay and lesbian parents.
Kate is a former board member for the organization COLAGE, a non-profit group that works toward community building for people with gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender parents. She is currently a member of Attachment Disorders Maryland, a group that works to educate parents and professionals about working with children with attachment related issues.
Kate lives in Columbia, Maryland is the mother of two amazing daughters, the partner to a fantastic husband, and the daughter of one mother and two gay dads. She loves to read any book that crosses her path, write (of course), and she recently started dancing again, a passion she has had since her youth.
- Making Peace With Your Inner Critic
- Happy Parent Tip #1
- Why Sexual Abuse is Never a Child’s Fault…Not Even a Teenager
- Naming Patterns Changes Patterns
- This is your brain on attachment
- Last Chance for Two Great Opportunities
- Mother’s Retreat Weekend- It’s Really Happening!
- Stopping the Parent Shame and Blame Game
- Making Peace With Your Inner Critic
- Putting together something fun for you!
- Quick Jobs for Kids
- Staying Strong as a Couple
- attachment disorder
- blog awards and recognition
- child development
- Groups/ trainings
- health insurance
- help for parents
- keeping children safe
- mental health
- parent support/ self improvement
- relationship issues
- resources/ book reviews
- social services
- thinking about therapy?
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