Dorota Rospierska, a Polish speaking, experienced NVR practitioner undertook to offer this first NVR group specifically for a Polish speaking parent base. This was an innovative and new group. It was presented in a way that Dorota had never done it before.
In a nutshell:
- It was in Polish,
- It was organised and run independently (Mind Transformation Solutions financed by a grant from Dr B. Alapin Fund),
- The participants self-referred,
- Recruitment was done via social media therefore parents came to the group literally from all over London,
- The families were not in acute crises therefore it was more about prevention,
- The children’s ages ranged from 4 to 14,
- It was shorter than a standard version (6 sessions),
- There was a lot of contact between sessions (e-mails, facebook communication, phone calls),
- The NVR module was combined with parents and children’s joint activity Mauy Thai Boxing.
Dorota writes: For some time I have been frustrated that NVR was not accessible to Polish speaking parents. When I found out about a possibility of getting funds from Polish Psychiatric Society I jumped at it. Together with a colleague who graduated from psychology in Poland Kamila Szumowska (we do it over 5 years there and receive MSc. degree) and who has been a Mauy Thai Boxing trainer, we could clearly see how NVR and boxing fits in together. Initially it may sound contradictory however in reality it made perfect sense. At least it made sense for the parents whose comments about it were like:
Combining group for parents with Thai boxing let me strengthen the bond with my children, especially with my daughter, who before would have avoided taking part in sport activities.
It was an ingenious idea to have a program for parents and sessions where parents and children could actively spend time together.
The Thai boxing training was also a fantastic way of spending time with my son.
Translating NVR materials and delivering the program in Polish was a challenge for me, a Polish speaking person. All my own training and experience of delivering it has been done in English, yet with the help of my partner from Mind Transformation Solutions we found the best vocabulary, phrases and slogans to convey the meaning and spirit of NVR. For now at least.
The self-referral route was a source of worries about confidentiality, safety, risk assessment and management. However we interviewed potential participants and established the level of need and potential risk (standard IAPT outcome measures S&DQ, RCADS were used to help with it). We encouraged two parents to seek medical advice and request CAMHS referrals (self-harming and eating disorder type of difficulties). We also discussed thoroughly with the participants the nature of the program, such as a difference between a purposeful therapeutic group and this 6 sessions training group to help them to make choices around what they share, bring to and take way from the sessions.
The venue was in North London (Islington). The parents travelled from across London (Uxbridge, Ealing, Croydon, Acton, Mitcham, Streatham). This wide travel base eventually proved problematic. The sessions were on a Friday evening, so at times the weekend traffic was really bad. The participants would be late, some would not manage to get to the sessions. The timing of the whole project was also not perfect. We started on 17th June and ended on 22nd July. This meant that 4 families went away after the 5th session (when schools broke up for the summer).
The boxing sessions took place in South London (Tooting) in a professional boxing gym.
It was a novel experience to work with parents who were not in crises. Mums and Dads of younger children were interested in using NVR so their relationship progressed in a positive direction. Those who had children around 10 to 12 years old were focused on preparing for transition to the adolescent stage. Teenagers’ parents were focused on utilising NVR to remind their children about values parents had thought them. On the whole the groups’ response was that they became more relaxed and able to enjoy the ‘here and now’ with their child, knowing that they had a NVR “road map” to lead them should they need it. The baskets and time delay response plus reconciliations gestures became the most favourite NVR concepts.
The program was conducted over 6 weeks as opposed to the more standard 10 weeks or longer in the case of specialist groups. We had various reasons to do it this way. After piloting this six week NVR group, I have come to a conclusion that should I do it again I would want to add two more sessions, among other things to allow more time for more practice of self-announcement, announcement and sit-in. Those techniques seem to exemplify all the main principals helping the participants to consolidate the newly acquired skills and thinking. The group members as usual, in my experience, become supportive to each other in sessions and outside of the group too.
In between Friday meetings we stayed in contact with the participants via a closed facebook group, e-mails and telephone contact. It was partially making up for the shorter duration of the program. We scheduled a follow up session in October.
If you have any curiosities about this group please send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorota is a family therapist in the Oxleas NHS CAMHS service and is also in private practice with Mind Transformation Solutions. She has been involved in practicing and developing NVR since February 2009 when Michelle Shapiro encouraged her to join a facilitators team to run a CAMHS NVR generic group.