Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Friend In Colorado

I have just returned from completing a Risking Connection in Denver, Colorado for Devereux Cleo Wallace. I met many great people who are caring, compassionate and thoughtful about children. I look forward to participating the the agency’s continuing evolution.

We were fortunate to have Dr. Jerry Yager, PsyD. participate in the training. Dr. Yager is a consunt to the agency, as well as working at the Denver Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC). He has studied extensively with Dr. Bruce Perry. Dr. Yager has a blog at: . Dr. Yager is a Clinical Psychologist with more than 25 years of experience in the assessment and treatment of traumatized children and adolescents. He specializes in working with adolescents who exhibit self-destructive behavior and who have severe mental illness such as clinical depression, bipolar mood disorder, post traumatic distress disorder and psychosis. Before joining DCAC as Director of Education and Training, Dr. Jerry was the Executive Director of the Denver Children's Home.

Jerry taught me some concepts that add depth to the thinking I have been doing about how brain development knowledge can improve our treatment.

First, he pointed out that all information enters our brain through the lower brain, because of course we get all information in one way or another through our senses. Thus, if the lower brain is scrambled or under developed, this will impact the processing of all information. This relates to sensory dysfunction. It also may explain some of the mis-interpretations our clients make. If the lower brain is operating in an aroused, danger state, all information is filtered through a danger/safety categorization.

Dr. Yager said that most psychotropic medications target functions in the lower brain, attempting to provide regulation. We seek regulation through relationships, through self soothing, and, when necessary, through drugs (prescribed or self chosen).

An important and underused concept is the idea of association. The brain forms neural connections between things that occur together. This is how memories are created. In good-enough parenting, the presence of an adult is associated with relief of distress (the diaper is changed) and with pleasure (food, closeness, attunement). In more difficult situations, the presence of an adult is associated with pain and increase of distress. Our kids come to us with these templates about adults: that they don’t care, can’t be trusted and hurt you. They dare not accept relationships at first. But we can use the power of association to begin to change that. At first, all we need to do is be near by when as child is experiencing pleasure. So, we provide the child with positive experiences: a regular meal, rhythmic pleasurable activities, needs met, safety. And we are nearby. We are right there, paying attention, attuning and smiling. After many repetitions, the child begins to associate adults with pleasure. And then….he may have to courage to form a relationship.

One more reason that having fun with our kids turns out to be the most powerful thing we can do!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Have Received an Honor!

Pat Wilcox was honored with the 2011 Social Worker of Year Award by the Connecticut Chapter of NASW. At the awards banquet, Pat was recognized as a national leader in the area of trauma treatment, especially in congregate care treatment settings that work with the most psychiatrically complex children. At Klingberg Family Centers, she initiated and oversaw an organizational transformation process from a traditional, control oriented token economy treatment approach to one that is based on state-of-the-art knowledge of trauma and attachment. She is the primary creator of the Restorative Approach, a trauma-informed alternative to point-and-level systems in child congregate care. She helped bring the Traumatic Stress Institute and Risking Connection to Klingberg and has grown the programs to national and international status. She accepted the award among family, friends, and her many Klingberg colleagues and mentees. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rhythmic Activity

As I discussed in previous posts, I am very interested in Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics ( ). I am thinking about rhythmic, rewarding, repetitive activities that we could add to or emphasize in our programming. These activities should be done with an engage, happy adult. I will list what I have so far. Please consider both your programming and the lives of your own children or children you have known, and give me any more ideas you can think of.
• Dance

• Wii dance

• Music

• Rapping

• Clay

• Throwing balls

• Rocking

• Swimming

• Pets

• Gardening

• Exercise

• Children’s games

• Jump rope

• Peek a boo

• Hand clapping activities

• Hopscotch

• Side by side walking

• Bouncing on "swiss ball" (exercise ball)

• Tossing a tennis ball back and forth

• Throwing wadded up paper in a garbage can repeatedly like shooting baskets

• Quick shoot basketball setups where you can repeatedly shoot baskets over and over

• Toy where you put 1 foot in a ring, whip it around as you jump over with other foot

• Hoola hoop

• See saw with another person

• Swings with two person possibilities -- seats opposite each/see saw-ish seats

• Throwing ball against the wall

• Two square game with another person

This demonstrates what a large role rhythm plays in the life of the average child.

Click on comment and add your ideas!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Hawaii Trip

I took a long trip to Hawaii to teach Risking Connection Train-the-Trainer. The people are great, exemplify the aloha spirit. The diversity seems a source of richness appreciated instead of a source of conflict. We had some fruitful discussions on culture and VT. The thirteen hour flight and the six hour time difference really messed up my body. If I ever go again I won’t fly there, work three days, leave the night of the third day, and fly all night to get home. Thankfully I did get a little chance to drink in the beauty.