Why detentions don’t work? Is a sea change required?

I was inspired by an article a friend shared on social media – the link to which I will post at the bottom.

I am a counsellor specialising in anxiety, a parent to 2 adopted children and a teacher of 10 years experience, a blogger on all things mental health.

I know that detentions don’t work, I have a feeling in my gut, a bodily sensation that tells me they are unkind, counter-productive and a waste of time for MANY children.

    How do I know they are a waste of time?

I do think that our actions have a consequence and that we need to know there is a consequence for our behaviour. However, there needs to be a seamless link between the action and the consequence. For example – “if you keep on with that behaviour, we won’t be able to go to the park” – natural, immediate and clear. There isn’t a time in the distant future or a disconnect between the action and the consequence – it’s an immediate learning point. Or “if you don’t complete that paragraph you will need to stay with me at break time to complete it” – natural, immediate, easy to understand. Instead of which a date is set in the future, the child is stuck in an unfamiliar classroom, with unfamiliar children and often unsupervised, they may be too scared to go and get their lunch, they may be scared of the older children and if they had a tricky start in life, they may feel deep, debilitating shame – not a good place for anyone to be.

So why do I want to write about this – I have started to find it really interesting, how we punish ‘so called’ poor behaviour. I have read a few articles recently that have got me thinking, (as well as my own family situation).

It feels as though our schools (in particular secondary schools) are set up only for the most robust and academic of children, only the most resilient will get through unscathed (I am talking mental health here). Schools could be a great place to nurture, encourage and educate children on feelings, self care, society and coping and not a pathway to prison for some young people (notice some of the same language is used: detention, isolation etc). If you have a robust child – great, they will probably survive – however, if your child has mental or psychological difficulties, attachment difficulties, had a poor start in life, ADHD, Autism etc this could be much more tricky.

Most secondary schools (and some primary) are set up as follows: verbal warning, name on board, note in planner, several notes in planner, lunch detention, after school detention, isolation, short term exclusion, permanent exclusion. Schools are institutions they need structure. A clear policy that everyone understands (hopefully). As we are all human beings they are usually applied inconsistently and are subject to our own prejudices and judgment.

    Do they work?

I did some research – I asked in a couple of parenting Facebook groups what parents thought about detentions – responses varied from – “my son had a detention for forgetting equipment, he never forgot again, so yes they do work” – to “my child was in and out of detentions through their entire school career – it’s not working”. I also posed the questions – what about children with additional needs?, should they be subject to the same discipline system as the wider school population? – most said NOT, that there should be further thought about the impact, what is appropriate, what can be understood, some creativity around methods used. Many thought restorative practice could work better. Many felt they were ‘banging their head against a brick wall’ to gain understanding around issues such as autism, ADHD and attachment. Schools are perhaps not the enlightened places we thought they were. It is very possible that some children are not functioning at a level where they can understand and control their behaviour so punishing that seems entirely inappropriate and even cruel.

    Is there an alternative?

Some schools are using or trialing new techniques, some schools are adopting restorative practice, some are using mindfulness, meditation, yoga etc. Maybe we need to get away from punishment and move towards understanding, get underneath the behaviour – “I wonder why that happened”, “I noticed you are not yourself today”, so we get to the root of the problem and together with the child come up with some alternatives for next time. I suppose these techniques may be seen by some as unworkable, but maybe if we replaced the time, admin and people associated with dishing out punishments with a different, yet workable system, it may well work a lot better for everyone, it does though, require a sea change.

I am proud of my teaching background and I have a great deal of respect for teachers and indeed would place them, up there as my some of my favourite kind of people – intelligent, kind, life changers but we do need change.
Link to article

Juliet

Use Every Tool You Have

I had a small ‘win’ this week, I am wary of blowing my own trumpet, but I see it as a useful situation to learn from and hopefully it helps others.

Some of you that already know me or have followed my blog, Facebook pages etc will know as well as being a counsellor and events organiser that I campaign from a personal stand on attachment and trauma. I firmly believe that if large institutions and organisations had an understanding of attachment and trauma, many, many people’s lives would be a lot easier.

My particular campaign has been a personal one, insisting that schools have understanding and training in these areas and in particular my own children’s schools.

I set off at the beginning of year 7, noticing that things weren’t going as well as they might. It was instinctive for me to start talking to the school, the SENCo, the form tutor, subject teachers and the head of year, try and create understanding, get them to think differently about behaviour and punishment, get them to realise what they were doing was counter-productive, punitive and possibly unkind. Those I spoke to did, on the whole, listen, accommodated my requests for meetings, took the books I offered to lend them. I did ruffle feathers and cause upset, I was asked to stop doing things. The staff were wary of me, but I figured I wasn’t going to change anyone’s thinking by charm alone!

So I used every tool I had at my disposal (I didn’t know that at the time) I used every aspect of my personality, got advice and help, laughed, cried, shouted, blogged, stayed calm, got mad, but most of all I kept on going, every time I was put off or knocked back I took stock, sat back and re-fueled my engine. It felt like a fight, a fight for understanding, a fight for my children and others like them. I wasn’t going to let them down, or let us down.

I got to the end of the year and I still felt misunderstood, not entirely listened to, felt like nothing had changed and had to use the final tool I had available and it felt risky and possibly ill-advised, was this really time to play my ace? (I did take advice from a number of professionals). I threatened to remove my child from the school (and meant it), this could have back-fired, we could have fallen flat on our faces.

The opposite happened, a few chinks of light appeared, some understanding appeared, some care and love appeared, some from unexpected quarters.

I was asked if I wanted to go in to the school on the training day and speak to a room full of teaching assistants about attachment and trauma. I was extremely pleased to do so and extremely thankful to the member of staff who invited me in (I gather it is pretty unusual for this to happen).

However, the fight is not over, but hopefully progress is being made.

My tip to you, if you are going through something similar is to be tenacious, have a goal in mind, get help and advice from wherever you can and most all do what you do with love and understanding.

I am an experienced counsellor. I work with parents on issues related to attachment, loss and anxiety. I also work generally with anxiety using a combined therapeutic approach with all adults. Please contact me for chat.

Have a great week.

Juliet x

Choice Survival Anxiety Package

Chewed Up & Spat Out

The word journey is often used, however, we can’t escape it, life is a journey where we reach crossroads and take different paths. I have often talked about my children, my path to bring them home, adopt them, help them and move them into their teenage years. Now I finally have some time to reflect on what has gone before and consider who I have become as a result of my experiences. There is no doubt I experienced depression, there is no doubt I had secondary trauma and now I consider what I am left with…………

Anxiety

I had the symptoms all along, not wanting to go out, not wanting to meet people, not wanting to visit anywhere new, finding it difficult to talk to people, not going far from home, experiencing a churning stomach, tight chest, nausea when the phone rang, cancelling social invitations and so on. I was experiencing social anxiety, I had been chewed up by my experiences and spat out, left with these anxious feelings.

Finding Support

I found great ways and people to support me, I knew I needed help and found it, through the difficulties I was determined to continue with my life and my business so I had to call on professionals to keep me going. I needed a Survival Package, a list of people I knew would help – counsellors, massage therapists, reiki practitioners, craft workshops, support groups, essential oils, self help books etc etc

How can I help?

I created my own blended approach of therapy; services and activities that supported me. I have always been an advocate of the holistic approach, treating mind and body as one, knowing that ill health in one area affected the other. After my experiences both personally and professionally I offer a blended approach to the therapy I offer.

Counselling – I have 5 years experience of counselling working with adults on loss, change, trauma and anxiety. I have an Advanced Professional Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling from Leeds Trinity University.

Hypnotherapy – I have 5 years experience of hypnotherapy used in conjunction with counselling to aid relaxation, work with phobias and anxiety. Certificate in Hypnotherapy & Counselling skills from Leeds Trinity University.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – There are lots of great techniques available from CBT which I employ from workshops and training courses I have attended.

Relaxation Techniques – I use relaxation as part of the sessions, some people don’t feel comfortable using hypnotherapy so I employ relaxation into the sessions by using relaxation scripts to help you relax at the end of the session and go out and face the world at the end of the sessions.

Essential Oils – I use a diffuser to help aid relaxation in the sessions and can advise on using essential oils at home. I have attended workshops to support this knowledge.

We also build in affirmations, mindfulness and meditation as and when it is needed.

The beauty of this whole approach is that we can tailor it to you, leave out what isn’t needed and add others where they are.

You commit to 6 sessions (we can add to it if needed) and I commit to helping you create your survival package so when the sessions are finished you have something to refer to when needed. Bespoke, tailored to you.

The 6 sessions are £330 which is £55 for each session, available to pay in installments. Great value when you think how much all these elements cost when taken separately.

Get in touch for your FREE 15 minute consultation or forward this blog/email to a friend you think may need some help.

There is help out there

EMAIL: juliet@choicetherapyyork.com

Juliet

A fabulous line up

Here is what’s on offer to
help you relax?

What a wonderful treat

Specially hand picked therapists, consultants and practitioners all here for you.

Chloe Hart from Bodyworks – fabulous 15 minute massage treatments
Lindsay Coldrick – Crystal Chakra Rebalance – gorgeous reiki with crystals

Annette Wilson from Sole Reflex – marvellous reflexology and Indian Head massages
Anna Park – with her gorgeous Forever Living Aloe Vera products
Mike Phan from MPRS – Fitness trainer extraordinaire – he really knows his onions when it comes to fitness and nutrition and very supportive
Jane White from Inspire Hypnotherapy – providing a fabulous relaxation session
Juliet Powell from Choice Therapy – a thought provoking workshop on Emotional Intelligence – what is it and how can we improve ours and other peoples EQ?
Biddie Atkinson from B Fitness & Wellbeing – supporting you with relaxing Reiki treatments
Beth from Bethany Jane Make Up – gorgeous make up, tips and consultations
Jacqueline from Viriam Yoga & Massage – gorgeous yoga relaxation session

Wow we are lucky to have such talent and support in one place.

Take the opportunity to grab one of the remaining tickets.

Juliet

An Insight into Physical Pain

A bit of a turnabout

Yes, I’ve had a different perspective.

Quite often I blog about the impact of emotional pain on the body. However, I’ve had some personal insight, just a glimmer, a small realisation of what it might be like in the reverse situation – the impact of physical pain on mental health and the emotions. An insight of what it might be like to be elderly or have long term physical illness.And it is just that, an insight, I tore a calf muscle while doing fitness training, a sudden injury which floored me (literally).

I know it will get better, I know I can rest, have physio and massages to help me.

For a while I had to use crutches, had to hop or walk on tip toes, couldn’t drive, run or stretch. I felt pain, I felt helpless, I couldn’t look after myself or my family as I usually do. They couldn’t get used to it and nor could I.

I was stuck inside, couldn’t really go anywhere and it dawned on me that these feelings were common in those who were/are physically ill in the longer term, only much more so. In that short time, I began to feel very low, misunderstood and not supported and tried to explain to people that even though I looked ok (except for a limp) I didn’t feel ok.

I run my own business, I had to cancel events and work as I couldn’t get to them. However, I had to get going quite quickly otherwise my business would falter and I was riddled with guilt that I was letting others down.

So why have I written about this, just to say ‘I get it’, even though it was comparatively brief, I got a sharp reminder of what others feel who are incapacitated for whatever reason. I have worked as a counsellor with the elderly and those with disabilities, I felt empathy and supported them in a variety of ways, now I have some real insight.

For all those people who are suffering long term injury or illness, I really admire you getting through every day and still trying so hard to work or help others in a wide variety of ways.

You are all in my thoughts
Juliet x