“Courageous Parents / Teachers”: Why are these books important for therapists & counselors?
“Courageous Parents” and “Courageous Teachers” are a practical and conceptual update of 20 years’ development in NVR and the New Authority for parents and for teachers. They fulfill the purpose of self-help books, but actually they are the most comprehensive description to date of our approach for professionals as well. However, their relevance for counselors and therapists has an additional reason. One of the strengths of the NVR and the New Authority model lies in the fact that it creates a unifying language between parents and teachers. In these books I try as best as I can “to speak this language”. I address parents and teachers in the same ways as I speak to them in the clinic and in schools. I talk not only about the child’s well-being, but also about the well-being of parents and teachers, among others because I don’t believe that the child’s well-being can be served if we don’t care for the well-being of those that serve him/her. My goal is to help parents and teachers become more protected, less isolated and with more possibilities of acting in their own and the child’s benefit. When talking to parents, I do so in a way that makes them become more likely to understand teachers, and vice-versa. In this way the message “We are in the same boat!” pervades every chapter and virtually every paragraph of these books. For this reason it was so important for me to publish them together. I have a deep wish to make parents find the teacher inside themselves; and I wish to help teachers put themselves in the shoes of parents, either by means of their own parenting experiences, or by stimulating a mutual empathy that allows both sides to overcome the chasm that currently makes their respective tasks so difficult.
In my career I have spent thousands of hours supervising therapists, counselors and school psychologists. This experience was key in inspiring me to develop NVR and the New Authority. I consistently found that we, members of the helping professions, fail to connect to parents and teachers. The reasons are many: our theories are critical of parents and teachers; parents and teachers often need urgent answers, while our pace as therapists and counselors tends to be too slow for their pressing needs; moreover they often require a very direct and even simple kind of help (because the emotional overload of their daily struggles makes them unable to implement deep psychological contents in real time), whereas we, therapists and counselors, are probably biased towards complexity. Very often, when parents or teachers are faced by psychologists and social workers they feel misunderstood or even accused. NVR and the New Authority are a way of speaking to parents and teachers that helps them feel free of blame and become better able to act so as to protect the child and themselves in ways that create a stable relational frame in which they can function and the child can grow. The best way I could find to teach professionals how to do this is to show them how I talk to parents and teachers. Already in my academic books, probably the parts that professionals found most useful were those in which I exemplified direct ways of addressing parents and teachers, or illustrated how they could address the child more effectively. “Courageous Parents” and “Courageous Teachers” are my most detailed and complete formulations in this respect.
A final reason why I think these two “popular books” can be relevant for professionals is that in working with parents and teachers, we must inspire courage. My goal in “Courageous Parents” and “Courageous Teachers” is to inspire such courage and illustrate to professionals how they can do this in effective ways. Actually, professionals that implement NVR and The New Authority need a good amount of courage themselves. I hope these books can make them into “Courageous Counselors”, thus serving parents and teachers as models and providing them with a therapeutic anchor that helps stabilize themselves, as they stabilize and anchor the child.