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{Free Podcast} The Importance of Parental Self-Care

December 5, 2016

I had the honor of being interviewed by author Kenneth A. Camp on the importance of parental self-care for parents raising children impacted by trauma- specifically adoptive and foster parents.

Podcast: The Importance of Parental Self-Care

Kenny and I met several years ago at an Adoption Knowledge Affiliates events.  Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of running into him at different adoption and foster care events and trainings, including Empower to Connect.  Knowing that this adoptive dad is a fierce advocate for connection-based parents (particularly Trust Based Relational Intervention), I eagerly agreed to the podcast interview!

Kenny has written a new book for adoptive and foster parents who use trust-based and connection-inspired parenting with their children.  After you listen to the podcast, check out his new book “Foster and Adoption Parenting: Authentic Stories that will Inspire and Encourage Parenting with Connection.”

If you listen to the podcast and want to spend even more time listening to me, you can join me for the webinar How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption, happening THIS Tuesday, December 6!!!

So grateful for each of you,

~

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LIVE Webinar next Tuesday December 6th!  How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption.  Can’t make it live?  All participants will receive a recording of the webinar to watch as often as you’d like!  CLICK HERE!!!

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

{Webinar} How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption PART 2

November 30, 2016

Happy Wednesday!!!  I hope you are recovering from your holiday week and finding some semblance of a routine before Christmas blows that out of the water😉

Part 2 of the webinar “How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption” is happening next Tuesday December 6.  This is part 2 of 2 but don’t worry if you missed part 1!  When you register for part 2, you can choose the option to also receive the recording of part 1.  They don’t have to be watched in order so don’t stress about trying to watch part 1 before Tuesday!

As always, the webinar is offered LIVE but ALL participants will receive a link to the recording.  The webinars are offered in the evenings because that works best in MY schedule, but I completely get that it’s smack dab in the middle of bedtime, homework time, and/or dinner time for all of you!  I love to listen to webinars while I’m driving- obviously I don’t WATCH the webinar, I just listen to it like a podcast!

Over and over again, I get questions from adoptive parents about how to find the right language to talk to their kiddo about all the hard things that happened prior to their adoption.  For lots of reasons (explained all in part 1!!) I believe strongly in the importance of being age-appropriately honest with our children about their stories, but so often we just don’t know what words to use!  We’ll address some of the toughest topics (drug use, physical and sexual abuse, abandonment, etc…) and not only will I give suggestions on actual language to use, but I break it up by developmental stage.  What you would say to your 5-year-old will be different than your 15-year-old!

Sound good?  Head over to www.HardTruthsWebinar2.EventBrite.com for all the details and to register.

I’m so grateful tonight for the technology that allows me to connect with parents all over the world in all different ways.

~

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LIVE Webinar next Tuesday December 6th!  How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption.  Can’t make it live?  All participants will receive a recording of the webinar to watch as often as you’d like!  CLICK HERE!!!

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

Why Good Times Can Suddenly Turn Bad

November 28, 2016

Big things, like their birthday party or a vacation to Disney World.

Little things, like Trunk or Treat at church or an afternoon at Jumpoline.

Why is it that your child can actually be having fun.  A great time!  And then fall into a crater of dysregulation?  You feel whip-lashed.  Maybe resentful.  Certainly grieved that for some reason, your sweet family and your precious child are missing out on some of the most anticipated, and seemingly normal, moments of their childhood.  Of being a family.

Why do some of those best times turn so bad?

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A quick little neurophysiology lesson.  The Amygdala.  The part of your brain responsible for appraising a situation and activating emotion. (Daniel Siegel, MD- The Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology).

The amygdala is scanning for danger an estimated FOUR TIMES every second.  Every ¼ of a second, a teeny tiny cluster of neurons in the brain is asking “Safe?? Not safe?!?!?!”  The amygdala may need to recruit a few of it’s brain-friends to make the final determination on whether it needs to kick it full force into fight/flight/freeze (or not), but this almond-shaped neuron cluster is on the front line when it comes to making that initial assessment.

The amygdala definitely has a negativity bias- meaning that if it is going to make a mistake, it is going to err on the side of deciding something was NOT SAFE even if it actually was SAFE.  The amygdala also supercharges threatening experiences in our memory systems so that when we successfully fight off a sabre tooth tiger, the next time we see even a glimmer of a sabre tooth in our peripheral vision, we immediately access the memory networks that will help us claim victory once again.  The brain isn’t really that concerned with if the sabre tooth in your periphery is actually just a harmless kitty cat from your favorite next door neighbor.  Since the amygdala’s job is to keep you ALIVE, it is fine with you overreacting to the neighbor’s kitty cat as opposed to underreacting to the life-threatening sabre tooth tiger that roams your suburban neighborhood.

You remember Pavlov?  How he got dogs to salivate to a sound of a bell by repeatedly pairing that sound with their dinner?  The dogs started to connect the sound of a bell to “DINNER!!!!” even though there really isn’t any relationship between the two (outside that lab experiment).  Well, some of your kids have paired “DANGER” with things that aren’t actually dangerous (the telephone ringing)- because at one point in time, that thing WAS dangerous (when the phone rang and at that same moment, they witnessed horrible domestic violence).  Or maybe everything was dangerous.

So this might help you begin to figure out why certain fun experiences actually turn your kid into a dysregulated mess.  Think about those environments and be curious- is anything in that environment something that was previously paired with danger for my child?  Sounds? Smells?

But there is one more reallllllly important thing to think about.

The brain is interested in both EXTERNAL cues (discussed above) and INTERNAL cues.

Heart rate.  Respiration.  Cortisol levels.  Sympathetic activation.  All those things change when your child is having a great time.  Jumpoline?!?!  Definite increase in heart rate, respiration, and sympathetic activation.  Birthday party?!?!?  Increase.

Well….all of those things also increase during a fight/flight/freeze DANGER DANGER response.

As your child’s heart rate elevates- as sympathetic arousal elevates due to excitement, or in order to power your child’s body through the energy-required gross motor activities of the birthday party- your child’s brain is still scanning for danger.  And this time- the danger might actually be coming from INSIDE your child’s body.

Because just like Pavlov can pair a bell with salivation, your child’s body can pair increased heart rate with “I’m about to die.”

And just like that- the switch is flipped and all those fun times turn IMMEDIATELY into dysregulation.

Dysregulation that is fueled by the fact that your child is already in sympathetic activation- so the dysregulation might be BIG.

All of the sudden, everyone is out to hurt your child.  An innocent bump on the trampoline causes your child to retaliate with a fist because his brain believed it was an attack.  Or the sweet fun your child was having turns a bit maniacal.  It’s out of control and your child suddenly can’t hear or listen or stop doing the outrageously impulsive thing she is doing.

Because the amygdala is scanning for danger outside AND inside the body.

Because early in your child’s life, sympathetic activation only meant DANGER.  It didn’t mean fun or shared pleasure.  Only danger.

The really great news is that this pairing can be undone.  It takes time, patience, and perhaps a skilled therapist, but mostly a patient and attuned parent who can help the brain re-learn that an increased heart rate can just mean there is a TON of fun happening.

I’m imaging that as we wrap up one holiday week while still swimming in holiday festivities that won’t disappear for at least four weeks, you may be seeing some of this in your family.  Maybe even at this very moment while you are taking a break on the internet from the chaos that is swirling in the background.

We’re gonna make it to January.  Promise.

~

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LIVE Webinar next Tuesday December 6th!  How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption.  Can’t make it live?  All participants will receive a recording of the webinar to watch as often as you’d like!  CLICK HERE!!!

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

Resources to help talk to kids about adoption

November 8, 2016

My webinar on How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption airs tonight and I wanted to put together a summary of a few of my blog articles for the attendees.  Whether or not you are attending tonight, here are a few of my past articles that addresses this sometimes complicated idea of how to talk about adoption with our kids.

When do I tell my child he is adopted?

Talk to kids about their adoption- part 1

Talk to kids about their adoption- part 2

Trauma Doesn’t Tell Time 

Linking together implicit and explicit information

You can still register for the webinar if you want!  It’s a two-part webinar with part one airing tonight.  Yes yes, I know it’s election day!  If you can’t pull yourself away from the news or need that time to make it out to vote, you can always listen to the recording!  The recording is sent to everyone who registers.

CLICK HERE to register!!

Hope to see you there!!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW

{Webinar} How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption THIS WEEK

November 6, 2016

Happy rainy Sunday🙂  It’s coming down like cats and dogs in Austin, TX right now!

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You may already know that I have another webinar series beginning on Tuesday, November 8.  “How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption” will address WHY we should be talking to kids about adoption (even the really hard or bad parts), HOW to talk about those things, and WHAT on earth we should actually be saying.

 

 

For all the details and to register, GO HERE: www.HardTruthsWebinar.EventBrite.com

If you follow me or my blog at ALL, you know that I’m firmly in the honest, authentic, and transparent camp when it comes to talking to kids about their past.  This is for a LOT of reasons- my relationship with many adult adoptees who have made it clear to me that this is THEIR story; my foundation in neuroscience and memory processing theory which tells me that ALL experiences are encoded, even if they can’t be recalled; and my love of attachment theory which is clear that one of the hallmarks of secure attachment is knowing your life story (researchers call this a cohesive life narrative).

But it’s SO HARD to talk about abuse, neglect, abandonment.  It’s hard because it hurts our hearts and we don’t know what to say.

Let me help you!!!

This is a two-part webinar. Part 1 is live on TUESDAY November 8, and Part 2 is live in December.  Yes, I know Tuesday is election day.  This can offer you a nice reprieve from the intensity of the evening OR you can just wait and watch the recording when I send it out a few days later.  You choose!

For all the details and to register, go here: www.HardTruthsWebinar.EventBrite.com

See you then!!!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW

Redefining What Works in Parenting

October 4, 2016

Many years ago, I was asked to guest blog on the topic “How do I know when a parenting method just doesn’t work and I should give it up?”  I didn’t end up accepting the invitation but it sure did get my wheels spinning.

Does Connection-Based Parenting Work?

During the course of my career, I’ve watched a shift from punitive, behavior-based parenting strategies to connection, empathy, and regulation-based strategies.  This is great- except that we are still talking about strategies.

Our left-brain (logical, linguistic) leaning culture reallllllly wants us to have a checklist.  Strategies.  Techniques.  To have someone say “If you do this this this and then this, everything will be fine.”

Where’s My Checklist???redefining-what-works

When I was pregnant, I knew just enough about attachment to know it was important.  I had done research in graduate school on Reactive Attachment Disorder and I understood the cycle of attachment (baby has need, baby expresses need, parent meets need, baby soothed), so gosh darn it, my baby was going to be attached to me.  {Demanding attachment doesn’t really work, but I digress….} I remember flipping through Dr. Sears’ “The Baby Book” and literally wondering where he had hidden the checklist.  I was the queen of “Just tell me what to do.”  I wanted a list of 10 things a parent does to make sure their child is securely attached.

I didn’t find it.  I did find enough people on the internet to tell me that secure attachment involved co-sleeping, breastfeeding, and baby-wearing.  Great.  Check, check, and check.

What has taken me years of parenting, being a partner, being a therapist, and being a client to learn is that there is no checklist.

Because attachment is about BEING not DOING.

OK so rewind back to the original question.  This potential blog topic keeps popping up.  In my office, in parent groups.  Parents might ask “How do I know when connection-based parenting just isn’t going to work and I should throw in the towel.” Or maybe even “I tried that connection thing.  TBRI?  Yup, tried that.  It’s great and all…but it didn’t work for my kid.”

Here’s the thing.

Connection CAN’T NOT work.

We have to reconsider, reevaluate, and redefine what we mean by WORK.

Can I give you a set of techniques- a checklist of sorts- that will stop your child’s challenging behaviors?

NO.

And anyone who tells you they can is LYINIG.

Are there ways to take the concepts of safety, connection, and regulation and operationalize them in a way that many parents will be able to implement into their home?

YES.

One of the things I love about Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI)® is that they have pretty brilliantly done exactly that.

But when we operationalize connection, we take some pretty big risks.  The first one is that we take connection right out of connection.  What if I really did parent my newborn with a checklist?  Baby sling.  Breastfeeding.  Cosleeping.  I went through the motions.  I did what they told me to do.  Am I guaranteed a secure attachment with my baby?

NO.

Because it’s not about DOING.  Especially with a newborn, a right-brained (nonverbal) tiny being.  Newborns don’t know about the checklist.  They don’t even understand my words.  Their nervous system responds to my tone of voice.  My facial expression.  My OWN nervous system regulation.

The same is true for our bigger kiddos.

How do you know connection-based parenting is working?  Because connection can’t not work.

Children who are connected, regulated, and feel safe behave well.  Because humans who are connected, regulated and feel safe behave well.

There comes a point where we, as parents, can’t control if a child feels connected, regulated, and safe.  But we are absolutely responsible for creating an environment that invites connection, supports regulation, and provides safety.  If we do all those things and our child’s behaviors haven’t changed, does that mean that connection-based parenting doesn’t work?

Absolutely not. Connection can’t not work.

~

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Catch me in November as I experience the amazing honor of providing the Friday Keynote at the Adoption Knowledge Affiliates conference in Austin, TX!

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

 

{Webinar} Trauma Doesn’t Tell Time- a 2 part webinar

August 1, 2016

Back in 2013, I wrote a blog post called “Trauma Doesn’t Tell Time” that went viral!  Well…viral for me🙂  It was, and continues to be, my most visited blog post by FAR.  It definitely struck a chord with families trying to figure out “why on earth does this keep happening?!?!?!”  I’ve since presented it as a workshop throughout the country!  What I learned is that this is information parents want…badly….and with my new webinar series I’ve got a great opportunity to present this short workshop for parents anywhere!!

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The details

It’s two hours, so I’ll be presenting it in two parts.  Part One will be live on Tuesday, August 9th at 8pm EDT, 7pm CDT, 6pm MDT, and 5pm PDT.  Part Two will be live on Tuesday, September 20th, also at 8pm EDT, 7pm CDT, 6pm MDT, and 5pm PDT.  You can register for only part one, or you can register for both.  If you register for both, you’ll receive a $5 discount off of registering for them separately.  Register by clicking here.  

Can’t make it live?  That is no problem!!!

After the webinar, all registrants will receive a link to a video recording which you will be able to watch as many times as you’d like!

What will be covered?

Trauma Doesn’t Tell Time answers the questions “Why is my child still triggered by trauma that happened YEARS ago!?!?!” and “Why isn’t enough that my child has lived in a safe home with plenty of food for years?!?!?!” and “My child seems triggered ALL THE TIME.  What’s up with that?!?!”  Trauma impacts children in complex ways, across many different systems.  Trauma Doesn’t Tell Time will look primarily at how trauma impacts memory integration (which leads to trauma being ‘triggered’) as well as regulation.  This is definitely a “WHY is this happening?” webinar, and not a “So what do I do about it?” webinar.  But don’t worry- I have those planned for the future.

I’m absolutely LOVING how technology is giving me the opportunity to easily connect with parents all over the world.  I hope you’ll join me for Trauma Doesn’t Tell Time!

~
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Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

Catch me in November as I experience the amazing honor of providing the Friday Keynote at the Adoption Knowledge Affiliates conference in Austin, TX!

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