I am currently running a parenting workshop based on the principles of SPACE (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions). I think sometimes for parents it is a bit confusing trying to figure out why they should sign up to take a class when what they are really hoping is to find some therapy for their children.
I get it. You have probably called multiple therapists, only to be told that they are full or have very long waitlists. I am no exception. At the time I am writing this, my waitlist is averaging about a year to get in new clients. It is so very hard to explain to parents that their children will have to wait to get help.
That’s why I created this parenting class. Although I do acknowledge it is not a replacement for individual therapy, the goal of this class is to offer some tools and techniques that will decrease your child’s anxiety before they even begin attending therapy.
I have created a list of some reasons why I think signing up for this class may be a helpful option.
1. Lack of available therapists. As I already mentioned, there is a lack of child therapists currently available – especially those who specialize in specific anxiety disorders. It is better to find some immediate support for your family while your child waits to be seen.
2. You will have to do this work anyhow. If your child becomes my client, be prepared to learn these parenting strategies whether or not you attend the parenting class. I believe that it is my job to help parents learn strategies to support their children after I am no longer around. You are the ones on the frontlines, doing this day after day!
3. The content is better. Even though I provide these techniques to parents of my individual clients, I believe that the format of learning it in a Workshop is much more effective than individually. Not only is it presented in a more structured, educational manner, but the time is carved out for you to focus on learning and you will not feel you are taking away time from your child’s sessions.
4. The group format is effective. Overwhelming feedback from class participants is that the group nature of this class provides a validating and supportive environment. Parents mentioned that they do not feel so alone after hearing from other families. It is wonderful to watch parents supporting each other and offering advice based on their life experiences.
5. Anxiety does not occur in a vacuum. Even though your child may be the one suffering from anxiety, the entire family usually is affected by the anxiety. This means not only do the anxiety symptoms cause stress in your family, but it also means that unknowingly your own reactions may be causing the anxiety to stay around or to get worse.
6. Research shows it works. Research from the Yale Child Study Center found that the SPACE workshop decreases parental stress, parental feelings of hopelessness and familial conflict. Results also show that child symptoms of anxiety decrease without the child ever attending individual therapy.
7. Positive feedback. Parents who have taken my class have shared that the class decreased the level of stress in the home and decreased their child’s urgent need for therapy.
8. Individual feedback and support. This is more than just a class where you sit and listen to the instructor. You will gain individualized feedback and recommendations each week based on your child’s needs. Parents set individual goals based on techniques learned in class and then receive feedback on how to implement or adjust their goals.
9. Cost. Yes, there is a cost investment for this group. However, the price point is significantly less than therapy and hopefully will provide you with valuable support.
10. It’s worth a try! If you have the time and budget, it is worth a try to do something to help your child and your family. You will learn valuable tools that will give you a framework to use throughout your parenting journey.
And that’s it. That’s my lists of reasons why this parenting class may be helpful for you. As with all things in therapy, there are no guarantees or magical promises, but my goal is to provide each family with support and give them a leg up on their journey.
Remember, not every child or family is a good fit for this class. Prior to starting, all parents meet with me for a consultation to determine goodness of fit. Very often I do tell parents that unfortunately I don’t believe the class will be helpful for them. Although it can be hard to hear this, it is also good to know that if you are accepted into the class it is because I believe your child can benefit!