Repairing Attachment Wounds
One reason therapy of any kind is so reparative is because it give our nervous system a different response than it was expecting. Let’s say that you come in to chat about a trauma you’ve experienced in the past and the therapist provides the opposite experience for you as you retell it by being nurturing, believing, and not swept up in their own story about it. This allows your nervous system to process the attachment trauma of not being heard, believed, or attuned to the first time during the trauma in the past. This works even better when your partnered in session with a horse because of their great ability to attune to us!
Experts like Dr. Purvis and Dr. Cross state that parents of kids who have attachment wounds are supposed to be like therapist in their home to make those brain pathways needed. You can use this therapy tool of providing a different experience in your home to heal attachment trauma! When you see your child in stress, ask yourself “When my child was a baby what was the response to this experience for them?” If you know they were neglected, respond with attention and care. If you know they were abused, have an extra calm and nurturing response. This is also why TBRI prioritizes connection, giving voice, choices and other amazing tools. However… this does take special X-Ray vision to see beneath the sass of a 14 year old who feels their needs are not being met because you won’t give them their phone. This doesn’t mean give in, it means respond with meeting their regulation need. Empathize with how hard it is for them and sit with them while they calm (you are actually empathetic and calm because you can see this is a “baby” need not met). And just like that.. boom! You created a pathway to override the old neglect and dysregulated one!
Hard stuff though right?? I hear ya… What if I told you that you don’t need to be a therapist or perfect to do this though! Research from Dr. Susan Woodhouse in 2019 states that parents of infants need to “get it right” about 50% of the time when responding to their child. We are parenting kids with brains like infants in many ways. This means we don’t have to be perfect, but we do have less leeway than children not impacted by attachment trauma, which research states is about 33% of the time of parents needing to be “good enough.” However if you do find you are swept up in your own “stuff” more than half of the time, that is a good barometer to you knowing when you need your own therapeutic support. Though maybe not as severe, we are all impacted by our own attachment wounds too!
If you want to learn all the awesome TBRI tools that also heal attachment wounds, consider attending the simulcast I am hosting! Details are on this page.
If you need any support with applying this in your home feel free to send me an email! Contact@wholeheartedherdcounseling.com
TBRI Nurture Groups
Things have amped up at my house as I’m sure it has in many houses as stress levels increase for parents with pandemic and political burnout hitting us pretty hard. Our three year old has increased some behaviors this week and I decided to pull from my tool belt TBRI nurture groups. A nurture group is a time set aside to proactively get ahead of problems in the home and do it with fun and connection. It borrows from Theraplay activities and I have adapted it some at my house. Empowered to Connect has a great post about how they do nurture groups as well.
It is broken down into a few sections and here is a sample outline of what I do in my home and in sessions with families.
If this is something you need help in trying or think your child is just too oppositional to do on your own, I would love to help you all in a family session! You also wouldn’t believe how cool it is to include your horse partner in your nurture group as well. Contact me to schedule a session.
*We heard the name Mr. Piddlesworth from a dog’s name on a Dr. Poll episode on Disney Plus and it makes me laugh even now thinking of that silly name. ☺
The book I chose to share today on my Instagram gives me hope that the way the world is today was not God’s plan. God will make things right and new again. God’s plan was for us to love each other, celebrate and embrace our differences the way He created them, and love Him.
My heart is grieved, angry, overwhelmed… The deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery have been heavy on my heart. I am grieved for the mamas who lost their sons. I am angry that people are more upset with looting than with the injustice. I am worried for White adoptive and foster families who are raising Black babies that may not be sensitive to these topics living in a world that will seek to tear those babies down.. I am tired of keeping my heart open.
Does opening your heart to all the world’s grief make your heart less whole? I would argue that if you don’t have an open heart you can’t be wholehearted. We can’t numb ourselves to the pain of the world and hope that we can be joyful and fulfilled people. As Brené Brown states this fact so wonderfully:
“You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.” Brené Brown, The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage
I have to keep listening to Black voices and their pain and seeking to do better. No matter how tempting it is to numb it. It hurts but it is part of White privilege to be able to ignore it and it needs to stop. The point isn’t to consume our lives with tragedy but to challenge complacency and the silence that breeds this injustice. Our kids need to hear our grief over this. They need to hear hard conversations about race and Black history in America. It’s our job to raise children that are able to recognize and stand up to racism.
Some things giving me hope about this are from the Conscious Kids platform. They are a great resource on how to follow for support on doing this well. The picture statistic is from their Instagram page. One week of tough conversations can change our kid’s racial attitudes! That’s amazing.
Today’s Parent also has a great article about how to talk to your children about racism by age. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/how-to-talk-to-kids-about-racism-an-age-by-age-guide/amp/
One of my favorite people doing transracial adoption so well is Rachel from White Sugar, Brown Sugar. She’s a great person to follow to example how to intentionally pour validation into your Black and Brown children. In a world filled with hate your life and home needs to be building them up at every chance you can get.
If you have other parenting resources share them below!
Wholehearted Herd Counseling, LLC provides trauma therapy for children and teens and family therapy focused on attachment for adoptive and foster families with the help of horses. Wholehearted Herd Counseling, LLC is an equine-assisted therapy service in the central Wisconsin, Wausau, and Antigo areas.