All parents and families are encouraged to participate in Paradigm Malibu’s Parent Coaching and Training services. The core of this component is Parent Effectiveness Training, facilitated by a P.E.T. trainer. This proven parenting method greatly enhances every family’s ability to maintain and to continue to build upon the progress made in teen residential treatment. At Paradigm, we view the well-being of adolescents as irrevocably connected to the well being of the family, which is why we include the parent support programs as part of our adolescent treatment plans. Though our primary focus is to address the needs and experiences of the individual teens, we also strive to help educate, support, and improve the relationships in the adolescents’ lives that are integral to their overall success, which is first and foremost, the relationships between the adolescents and their parents.
Just as all parents have their own approaches and all families have their own ways, the specific nature of parent training and coaching differs, according to the family. Similar to our approach in working with teens themselves, we strive to provide support and guidance to parents that is as specific as possible, and therefore, the most applicable to the parents’ own family dynamics and situations. Along these lines, participants explore a number of different issues, ranging from parenting styles, to behavior windows, problem ownership, communication and conflict resolution skills, active listening, and communication roadblocks. We find that, despite our own awareness and intentions of communicating positively and healthily with others, there are often fundamental and consistent communication patterns at work in families that, if improved, can vastly improve the dynamics in the family and the relationships themselves. Parents also explore “Misbehavior” as the language of power and authentic, congruent expressions of feelings. In addition participants look at anger and what’s beneath it as well as, I-Messages vs. You-Messages.
In addition to practices, techniques, and resources that help educate parents as to how to communicate effectively as well as how to respond to the communication of their teens, parents also learn practical applications such as how to modify the physical environment at home to prevent problems and reduce both conflicts and the risk of relapse. Though it’s true that ultimately, the teens will need to be the ones that take responsibility for ensuring their own continued success, there are tangible ways that parents can help to support the work and efforts of their teens, and prevent additional triggers and/or vulnerabilities from being available at home.
We find that one of the most positive aspects of Parent Coaching and Effectiveness Training is to help unite teens and their parents in their knowledge and experience both of what is happening now in treatment and what will be required of them, moving forward. It is simply much more powerful for parents to undergo and participate in their own sessions, rather than simply to hear about the sessions of their teens. For instance, both teens and their parents also explore win-lose conflict resolution methods vs. the no-lose method, the use of influence vs. control, family rule setting and how to handle value differences through modeling. All groups are based on the specific needs and goals of families in treatment at any given time. These dynamics and trainings also help to support even more productive and helpful family sessions, allowing for the teens and parents to “practice” some of the communication techniques in sessions which they’ll then try to draw upon at home.