Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bridging the Gap


At the beginning of this month, I attended a conference in Las Vegas where Dr. Allan Shore was the keynote speaker. His information was amazing! "Thick," but amazing. By thick I mean it was in-depth, profound, intellectually stimulating, and heavily documented by scientific research.

The premise of his talk was that the repair of the self, or healing, from early childhood experiences happens in the right hemisphere. The right hemisphere is our unconscious processor and our emotional self. He discussed how a child's brain needs meaningful human interaction to drive the brain's development and maturity. When these experiences are missed between the child and his caretaker, the neurological pathways are misaligned.

The great news is that repair and realignment of these neurological pathways is possible due to the plasticity of the brain. However, this repair does not come through intellectual or cognitive processing. The primary component of healing is the emotional bond. It has to happen through emotional communication and emotional connection. It is the right-brain-to-right-brain emotional communication that heals. The relationship is the key. In essence, and these are my words, it has to come through love.

Then at the end of this month, I attended the ATTACh conference in Charlotte, NC. I presented to a room of almost 100 parents. The energy in the room was so different from the conference in Las Vegas. At the ATTACh conference, the room was filled with parents struggling everyday just to get the basics of life accomplished, each desiring more information to be able to go back home and move out of a place of survival into a place of living. Yet, in Las Vegas, the atmosphere was more relaxed. The day was about informational learning and listening to the latest in scientific research. It was a day off work to earn continuing education credits then a night out in Vegas catching a show and having a nice dinner.

As I type this blog, I realize that we need to focus on bridging the gap between the intellectual and scientific understanding of trauma and the "real-life" parenting of trauma. The two need to come together in a more coherent way in order to put neurological science into action. Showing slides and talking about current neuroscience literature doesn't necessarily mean that the quality of life in families is being improved.

As I look back and realize the incredible contrast between these two trainings, I realize more than ever my mission in life. This is the essence of my work at the Beyond Consequences Institute -- to bridge the gap between neuroscience and parenting. Wow! This gets me fired up and rejuvenated to create more resources and ways to support you and other families.

If you have any ideas of how to I can help you or other families bridge this gap, post a note here. What more is needed to learn how to create these "right-brain-to-right-brain" interactions in your home? I welcome your feedback!

17 comments:

FaerieMama said...

Heather, I just want to express my gratitude. Your post speaks of exactly what frustrates me about raising my wonderful RAD daughter.
So many doctors, researchers, etc talk about the discoveries being made about how trauma effects the brain, and yes, I'm fascinated. However, the research means nothing if there is not someone to bridge the gap between this new knowledge and the use of this knowledge for the benefit of children like my daughter. You do that. Thank God. Your books have made parenting my daughter not only bearable, but something I enjoy (most of the time..lol!). Keep it coming!

Unspeakable Joy said...

oh my goodness! this is so what i'm personally longing for. (i'm going to run tell my other RADical mom blog friends next!) that gap is so hard. i'm a research scientist by trade, so i've read the medical journals and articles and books and GET the theory, why my RADical kids are the way they are, what their brains need, but HOW to apply it practically is so difficult. the beyond consequences book was an eye-opener for me and i remember telling my husband, i think i really found the way to fix this. but when it came time to tell him the how, i was lost. great info, but what to do with it? then i got the live event dvd which we watched together and said OHHHH. (i personally think that both should be required!) but now we're closer to the same page, although we fall back into the "well they do need to stop that so they need to be punished, but that doesn't work so..." but we're getting there.
also, my husband doesn't like to read so i have to try to summarize very difficult brain info and that's not easy. :)
so what's needed? i wish i could be more specific than just saying "more". i loved the role-playing from the live event, that really brought the whole process to life. and i'd love anything that summarizes that brain need AND how to apply it. i'd love to see more specific examples (although i know each situation is unique and you need to be intuitive - that's hard for my left brain!).
so any resources that summarize the interesting and necessary brain info in a not completely boring brainy kind of way, but also then show what to do about it would be great. not sure if that's helpful at all, i just look forward to what's to come. seems you have a great view of both ends so you're a great bridge-gapper! thanks for the great amount of peace you've helped bring to my heart and our home already!

Annie said...

I do think it is possible to connect research and the practical use of it! I do it as a teacher...I would like to do it more as a parent.

But parents are tired, may not have a lot of background, and may just want to get to the "answers". Right now! (I know that despite being an "intellectual type" I did rather shoot through the first part of your book - I wanted the EXAMPLES!)

I appreciate your blog; please keep it up.

Mooy oh Mooy! said...

keep posting we need your thoughts!!!

Laura said...

what about actually entering the homes of some of these families and video taping some positive interactions - situations that are tough and how we can turn those into healing moments? Seeing real life families that are in the same struggle making progress and being able to take that and apply it to our own families is more valuable than just reading about it. Just a thought...

Tootsie said...

HI Heather,
I thank God I found your blog and your site. I already love the daily devotions. My husband and I are foster parents (since May 08) to a 16year old girl who has most of the symptoms of RAD. She has a lot of anger and uses it to keep me away. Her anger triggers some of my deep stuff and the question I have is this: do I share my surfacing feelings with her or not? Thank you for what you are doing to bridge the gap.

Debra said...

I love this blog and I love the first book. I am still reading it. I look forward to getting the second book.
I like the idea of videoing sessions with families. If you ever decide that is something you might do, let us know, I would volunteer our familiy in a heartbeat! We would love to help other families. I believe in this program that much! I wouldn't be able to say that about alot of the other things we tried. We have only heard of Heather and your books for maybe just two months, and we have seen a HUGE difference in our lives! In our daughters life as well! We encourage your desire to help others and we hope we can be apart of that process by encouraging others about this book. We knew there had to be an answer to our prayers. We knew God had sent us to Russia to get our daughter and if He sent us to get her, that meant we needed to be able to take care of her. For sometime I have to be honest, I was starting to doubt what I believed. Now I am strong again, thru the strength of someone else who gave me this book and thru Heathers dedication to these kids. It would be a wonderful thing to see blossom.
Thank you Heather, this book really has saved us as a family and as a couple.
I look forward to hearing more about your future endeavors. I would also like to know how to get you to have a seminar near where we live.
Debra

*Peach* said...

I love your concept of love-based parenting, versus logic alone. I am an adult adoptee and never thought I had any "issues" from being adopted until I numbly decided to "search" in my 20's. After my reunion, the years of grief that many adoptees are taught to supress surfaced. I love Sherrie Eldridge's book "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish" and Nancy Verrier's website. I think they are missing keys to working with adopted children, and along with your work could be valuable to many.
I also had a premature baby, who weighed only 1.4 pounds at birth and spent his first 4 months in the NICU. He deals with attachment/trust issues also, and it breaks my heart. I would love more info. on the neuro-reorganization therapy and also am so glad I found your resources, because I am convinced attachment parenting, love-based parenting is key for him, along with sensory integration therapy. It is overwhelming for any mother!

Blessings and thank you for your information.

Brenda said...

Thank you for you blog. I had long used the older methods of attachment parenting and am working hard on understanding and using the new methods and looking at what older methods I think are valid. The brain issue remains the same but is so hard to understand. I am wondering if there were some type of visuals developed showing the parts of the brain, what they do, how they were effected if it would help me. I even bought a "brain model" but when I read about brain activity it is confusing. Maybe I am more of a visual learner and need to see the 2 on paper in front of me at the same time. I don't know. Just a mom thought.

Mike and Christie said...

Heather, I really enjoyed attending your conference today in the Dallas area. You are a really great speaker.
I wrote a blurb on my blog about the day.
Thanks.....

Mike and Christie said...

Heather,
I just wanted you to know that the family I brought to your conference decided AGAINST disruption! YEA!
Thanks so very much for clearly explaining your methods and answering the questions folks have.
I nearly jumped for joy when I got their email last night. :)

hopefulmum said...

Heather,
I am an adoptive mum in England, struggling to make sense of what is happening in our family. Thank you for the hope you have given me and my husband! We have just ordered your book.
Are you thinking of doing any seminars in England?
Hopefulmum.

leslie_mueller said...

Hi Heather. Teenagers pose a tremendous problem. With 2 adopted teens with severe trama we are just trying to keep them alive to age 21. They are easily influenced by others. At 15 our son (no driving exper.)stole our car and tried chasing down someone by car. He started a fire in our house. Another time got drunk and ran into a moving vehicle. Amazing no major injuries. My daughter, already stressed about entering high school was sexually assualted at the beg. school. She didn't tell us wha happened, but something was wrong. She stopped doing school work, slept most of the time, and would run away to have unprotected sex.
We try our best to use a loving approach, but our kids need to understand that they do not function well out in the community on their own - but they want to go anyway. Where do we go from here?

Leah said...

"to bridge the gap between neuroscience and parenting"

Heather, thank you for your efforts to bridge the gap

I have been immersing myself in BCLC for about two months now, and am seeing results. It has been a hard road, with my duaghter pulling back from my attempts to reattach, but we're working on it with love.

I have nominated your blog for Kreativ Blogger. I hope that's ok. It'll get my blog's readers reading yours.

Leigh Ann said...

Hi Heather- I am so enjoying your work. I was moving toward the same notions, that none of the things we are learning in the area of attachment is really making any differences in the homes of adoptive families, as I have been working with adopted children and foster children and families for 6 years as a therapist. I was thinking along the lines of healing parents so they can freely love, when a parent brought your book to my attention. I had seen it a couple times before and wanted to look into your approach further. I was reviewing a faith based approach that centers in on I John 4:17- There is no fear in love for perfect love casts out all fear. I was surprised to see that verse at the beginning of your 2nd chapter. I thought your approach and the faith based one were very similar so I'm looking at both of them at the same time. The faith based approach is Loving on Purpose by Danny Silk. It's a lot like Love and Logic, but it's more of the love and helping a child "manage freedom." I think your work is bold and revolutionary. Like I said though, I am putting a lot of effort into considering how to free parents from their own childhood big and little traumas so that they can freely love as your book so eloquently describes.

Leigh Ann said...

I thought I'd also say to Peach-- I had pre-eclampsia and a premature child as well, who is now almost 4. He spent 7 days in NICU (not too bad), but then went back to the ER (torture chamber for infants) and was hospitalized for 5 days when he was only 3 months old with Kawasaki's disease. He had a couple other medical procedures too to address a airway issue. He had some difficulties in the beginning with attachment, but we were able to intervene early with attachment parenting. He still struggles with an ebb and flow of sensory processing disorder issues. He has recently gone through a growth spurt, and apparently his "map of me" is off again. USING MORE LOVE than logic is crucial during these times with him to get him through the adjustments. When we aren't as patient and center on controlling the behaviors, I have very much noticed that it becomes worse and the fear-based parenting responses start a negative spiral. But I just wanted to chime about SPD. If he's already stimulated, I think Heather's approach is ESPECIALLY important. The OT described the condition like a feeling of wanting to crawl out of your skin. That helped me develop the needed empathy for him to pull off the loving response, because when he gets like this, it's easy to forget that he's not attempting to torture us!

Ken Thom said...

Yes I agree, that's why BCI principles and strategies are so effective. I use them in my counsleingpractice eery day.
Ken Thom, BCI Parent Trainer and coach