The families we work with include kids of all ages, from toddlers to teens. In fact, the broader strategies that underlie our work are not age-dependent — they’re relevant to kids of any age, and we know how to apply these strategies regardless of age.
Yes, our practices are trauma-informed. Although our focus is on parent coaching and not psychotherapy, we also have clinical experience with kids and adults who have experienced significant trauma. Our own clinical training related to trauma allows us to work with survivors using a practical, here-and-now, solutions-focused approach, which an excellent addition to traditional talk therapy.
In our experience (one of us is a psychologist), and based on what our clients tell us, some main differences between therapy and Wits’ End Parenting are…
1. A difference in focus and strategies. Many if not most therapists focus on feelings and the client’s management of feelings. We focus much more on the family context, and on setting things up so that difficult feelings decrease, so there is less need to manage them. And by family context, we don’t just mean relationships and communication among family members, although these are important. We also look at practical, physical realities, for example, schedules or family routines. Our approach tends to be very concrete and practical, which makes the material easier to implement.
2. A difference in the helping professional’s view of the client and the problem. Psychology and psychotherapy have deep roots in a view of the client as “troubled,” emotionally off-balance, or otherwise deficient. Although some therapists resist pathology-oriented interpretations, a pathology orientation is an integral aspect of most therapists’ training.
3. A difference in focus on the parents vs. the kids. When a child’s behavior is the problem, although many therapists do work with the parents, they tend to work as much or more with the child. In contrast, our focus is less on teaching the child and more on teaching you how to teach your child. We think this if much more efficient. It’s way more effective for you to manage a negative behavior when and where it happens than it is for you to rely on a third-party to attempt to resolve the problem by talking about it a day or a week later in therapy.
I can honestly say that, when parents are committed to the process, I’ve never worked with a family whose child hasn’t responded favorably to my approach. And a big reason for this is that in one sense I don’t use specific techniques or methods. Instead, we apply general principles in specific ways that fit with your child’s unique personality and temperament.
Having said this, if you practice what I’ve shown you and your child doesn’t respond, I’ll show you how to tweak what you’re doing so that your child does respond. Most if not all of my clients experience at least a few instances where their child doesn’t respond as expected. This is absolutely normal – in fact, it’s inevitable. You and your child are in a process of new learning. But don’t worry – in the course of our work together we’ll refine what you’re doing so that you and your child interact in the ways you both want.
And having said this, know that we do have a refund policy. See the refund-policy FAQ for information on the refund policy.
If I decide that it’s just not working out, can I stop, or am I obligated to pay for the full program?
You do not have to pay for the program if you choose not to continue after our first session — we offer clients the opportunity to have one (paid) session before they commit to a program.
If you do enroll in a coaching program but choose to discontinue the program within the
first six weeks of the program start,* we will refund your program fees minus the
value of the sessions already attended** and minus an additional $150
administrative fee. We do not provide refunds to clients who discontinue their
program after this six-week period. However, clients who discontinue after the six week
period are welcome to continue their program at a later date, provided they re-enroll
within three months of the discontinuation date.
* The six-week period accounts for the number of weeks from the program start, not
the number of sessions attended. This is consistent with the fact that, in order to
optimize your results, our programs are designed to run in consecutive weeks.
** Individual coaching sessions are valued at a rate of $225/hour.
If your child does not want to participate in your coaching program, that’s OK. On the other hand, if your child is refusing to participate there’s a good chance they’re refusing to do other things, too! And did you know that these kind of compliance- and cooperation issues are actually best handled in conversations with just the parents? This is why we structure our programs so that our first coaching sessions take place without the kids.
In fact, you can solve all of the problems that bring you to us whether or not your child comes to your sessions — simply because that’s what we do — we teach YOU to solve these problems.
Our approach doesn’t depend on our convincing your child to do things differently. When a child participates, yes, we do help change their perspective, and that’s great. But the main focus of our work is on teaching you to work with your child in ways that get you the changes you’re wanting.
This is a significant difference between our approach and psychotherapy. When a child’s behavior is the problem, although many therapists do work with the parents, they tend to work as much or more with the child. In contrast, our focus is less on teaching the child and more on teaching you how to teach your child. We think this if much more efficient. It’s way more effective for you to manage a negative behavior when and where it happens than it is for you to rely on a third-party to attempt to resolve the problem by talking about it a day or a week later in the office.
Still worried that your program won’t be effective if your kid won’t participate? Check out the Yelp review from Pamela P!
Yes, you can.
But we recommend that clients enroll in a coaching program, because we’ve learned from experience that our coaching programs are much more effective.
Your commitment to a coaching program gives you regular, sustained practice in applying new habits and skills. It also provides you with ongoing support. Change doesn’t come simply from intellectual knowledge or understanding; if it were that easy, the thousands of parenting books out there would make coaching irrelevant! Real change means new habits, and new habits take a little time.
In fact, the simple act of conveying and learning new information takes a little longer than you’d think! For example, most of our clients see a much greater benefit when we refine and adjust their implementation of particular techniques over a period of weeks.
We encourage our clients to think of our programs as a commitment to a result. You’re not just getting more information — you’re also getting what you need to translate all that theory into a sustainable solution!
There are three main pieces to our parenting approach. We may or may not focus on each piece in our work with you – that depends on the coaching program(s) you choose. But we believe that for parents and kids to relate to each other in a harmonious way – and for that peace and harmony to continue long-term, three things are needed:
First, parents need to be the leaders of the family, and they need to hold kids accountable to follow their lead.
Second, parents should ask kids to contribute in a significant way to the operations of the household, because that position of responsibility helps kids to develop a real experience of “We’re all in this together.” And when kids really live that experience, they become more willing to cooperate, because they really do feel more like they’re a part of a team — a team they want to support.
And third, we teach parents and kids to make decisions and solve problems together in a real, genuine way. Especially with oppositional kids, if they have a genuine voice in decision-making, this meets their need for autonomy and control, and when this need is met, they don’t have to exercise control in inappropriate ways. We’ve developed our own unique process for teaching this third piece, because without the right structure, many of the most strong-willed kids won’t actually collaborate!
Please feel free to contact me with the questions you want answered!