Our approach to Non Violent Resistance

Michelle Shapiro describes the NVR Practitioners Consortium's gentle and loving approach to Non Violent Resistance

The NVR-practitioners consortium (NVR-PC) professional training was created by and is based on my experience and expertise with NVR over many years. It has been refined and supplemented by the expertise of many other colleagues over time and is still evolving as we continue with our own search for the optimum combinations to assist parents to move forward toward their desired outcome. 

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Training endorsement

Professor Omer has endorsed this training, with an approval of our understanding of trauma work as a part of the NVR approach. Whilst the NVR-PC training encourages the group NVR approach, the training enables the clinician or practitioner to offer NVR on an individual family basis as well as within a group, with individual support to supplement this where necessary and possible.

The NVR-PC approach aims to keep the profound ideas and underpinnings of NVR in the background whilst professionals and parents learn the foundational premises and application of this challenging but rewarding parenting approach. We therefore endeavour to keep the early learning of NVR simple, knowing there is the solid underpinning. We also aim to be very loving and gentle, both with the parents and with the parents and child together. We absolutely prioritise and emphasise building the relationship between parent and child. For example, we focus on reconciliation gestures (unconditional acts of loving kindness) from the very start of a parenting group.

The value of supporters

Supporters are essential to the effective implementation of NVR, but we are careful in the recruitment of those supporters. We encourage the parents and supporters to not use blaming language. Rather than taking a bold or harsh stance with the child, the language is

“We’re here to support you.  We care about you. We want to help you to bring about the needed change.”

The firmer components of NVR are absolutely included, but the timing is carefully gauged. We feel that the NVR ‘Sit-In’ when well prepared and correctly timed is an invaluable and essential component of the NVR approach. It is the final step the parent can and should take when all the repair and recovery work undertaken in the earlier aspects of NVR have failed to sufficiently achieve the desired outcome. This is the back-up or ‘big guns’ of the NVR intervention, and we do not feel it would be NVR without this. But the timing and preparation is crucial. We would not encourage the parents to give the child an announcement or do a ‘Sit-In’ until the rawness or ‘inflamation’ within the family system has settled with the earlier aspects of NVR firmly in place.

An awareness of the impact of trauma on the implementation of NVR  

I believe that we need to be aware of how much trauma is affecting the family system and this is therefore a key component of our approach. A parent who is ‘triggered’ (a powerful psychophysiological response that is absolutely not under the control of the person) by a child attacking them will struggle to de-escalate effectively. Similarly, we prioritise self-care for the parent. It must come in very early on in the NVR program, not as something additional or extra or an afterthought. It's an absolute priority for parents to be take care of themselves; otherwise they simply will not have the resilience or reserves to parent effectively. This is very true with the NVR approach which asks so much of the parent – so they really need to be as strong as possible to persist with this.

I believe that this self-care should include recognition of the effects of trauma and an addressing of these effects through some form of direct trauma work (such as EMDR, EFT or my preferred modality of AIT). We feel that trauma is such an important component in the implementation of the NVR approach that we are going to offer a further blog addressing this issue in greater depth.

Positive psychology, trauma informed position

I come from a positive psychology, trauma informed position. As such, I believe we are all self-healing, self-regulating systems. For example, if you cut your finger, you don’t have to tell your finger to heal. It knows what to do. It will heal, given half a chance. The same, then, is true of the family system. If the parent can alter what is happening for them, then the family system is already starting to change and heal and regulate. This is central to NVR.

NVR empowers parents, it empowers professionals and ultimately it empowers the child to implement the self-management and control needed to bring about the positive changes. It simply seems to empower everybody. I founded the NVR Practioners Consortium with like minded colleagues for us to get the message out there as much as I can.

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