How does NVR work when it’s taught in groups?
Historically families have been supported by NVR Practitioners on an individual basis and it is without a doubt effective.
Teaching NVR to parents in groups is a relatively new phenomenon and one that is proving equally effective in supporting parents and changing family dynamics for the better. It is being used successfully within adoption circles and helping to remove the sense of isolation and loneliness that can come when children are exhibiting extreme behaviours. The group can also provide a support network for the parents as well and many parents stay in touch after the course has finished.
Within birth families the use of NVR can help reconnect families together and change potential generational issues. The use of groups to teach parents NVR can also help to reconnect communities and reduce isolation.
In this article we will focus on the overall structure groups can have and the benefits they bring.
Group courses can take different forms and be varying lengths dependant on the needs of the families, the intended outcomes and the ongoing support being offered after the group has finished. As all practitioners will know it’s the ongoing nature of support that is often critical to the success of NVR, particularly when parents haven’t started using NVR until they are at breaking point.
The size of groups
Courses tend to consist of up to 12 people and usually have 2 practitioners (particularly the larger groups). Ideally both parents attend the course so that they can learn together and discuss any issues / differences that they have in their approach, however this isn’t essential and one parent attending is better than none. If both parents are not using and practising NVR it can still work but change will take longer.
The structure of group courses
Courses can vary in structure depending on their desired outcome.
Most courses though are about 8 weeks long and cover all the aspects of NVR. There will usually be 2 practitioners leading the course and each week a different aspect of NVR is looked at in detail with time to review learning from previous weeks.
The order that the different aspects of NVR are looked at to a certain extent is up to the course leaders, although the ‘big guns’ of NVR like the Announcement and Sit in will usually be towards the end. Here is a suggested order:
- Overview of NVR
- Looking after yourself
- Parental Presence
- Reconciliation Gestures
- The Announcement
- The Sit in
- Siblings (although this tends to be covered each session as it arises)
Looking after yourself may not seem like the obvious place to start, but many parents are exhausted and implementing the other aspects of NVR, such as de-escalation, is much harder when you’re tired. Discussing this in the group at the start can give permission to parents to look after themselves, it is their duty to, not a luxury. It also provides children with a positive role model and enables them to see self-care as an everyday part of life. It can be helpful to do some form of relaxation exercise each week as part of the session.
On average each session last 2 hours and consists of group exercises, individual exercises and group discussions.
As with any course or therapy session the environment is critical. From the type of room to the atmosphere amongst those attending. A confidential space where parents can talk openly without fear of judgement or seeing their story discussed outside of the group is essential for parents to get the most out of the session. Setting the grounds rules in the first session is critical.
The course alone may not be enough, and parents often benefit from ongoing support. This could be provided via monthly support sessions, a Whatsapp group that the parents use, telephone support when needed or individual support. The needs of the family need to be taken into consideration when deciding the best ongoing support, however many group courses offer monthly support for a period after the end of the course.
Group courses are proving increasingly popular with both families and practitioners; however, they are not the answer for everyone. Not everyone feels comfortable discussing their situation in this environment, or the complexities mean that individual family support would be more beneficial. It is a good option for many and can be a more cost effective option.
The intention of this article was to give an overview of NVR group programmes. If you’d like more information, support or guidance please contact us and we will be happy to help.