Parenting a Child with Mental Health Issues
If you’re a parent of someone with mental health issues, it can be overwhelming and scary. Often it brings up many personal fears such as, “Did I cause this?”, “What could I have done differently?”, “Is there any hope?” You may feel that no matter what you say or do that it will be the wrong thing. You may feel judgment about yourself and your child and you may feel judgment from others. You might be very angry that this is happening to you and your family.
You are not alone. We all want the best for our children and sometimes parenting is complicated. You can feel a lot of love for your child and a lot of other emotions too at the same time.
Together we can work together to help things get better in your family.
Did you know that research has shown that parents can improve the mental health of their children by using Emotion Focused Family Therapy (EFFT)? Using emotion and recovery coaching skills, healing old wounds, and working through your own fears and defenses can make big changes. It requires courage, but it is achievable.
There are many things that contribute to whether a person develops mental health issues. These include genetics, temperament, epigenetics, family environment, life stress, social and cultural factors, puberty, and emotional avoidance. The main focus of EFFT is exploring emotional avoidance in families and shifting family dynamics.
Parenting in General
EFFT is also a great fit when you are struggling as a parent with children who do not have mental health issues. There is so much conflicting parenting advice in this world (and on the web) that it can be hard to know where to start. Should you do a behavior chart? Do you set firmer or looser boundaries? Do you take your kid out of school or put them in a different school? What do you do after you find yourself doing something as a parent you never imagined yourself doing? EFFT can be excellent preventative medicine for your family before things get worse.
How would you like your relationship to be with your child?
Where do you need support?
Where does your child need support?
Let’s work together.
I have offered therapy and support as a Social Worker for 8 years in the Day Hospital program at McMaster Children’s Hospital. The Day Hospital Program supports teens diagnosed with a mental illness in a daily program for 6 weeks to help them transition back to school or work. Part of my role as Social Worker was to support parents as well. The program used Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Emotion Focused Family Therapy (EFFT).
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