Sunday, October 24, 2021

Helping parents set realistic expectations around counseling work with their children

As Family Doctors, have you had the following experience?

It’s not uncommon for me to see parents who bring in their child with mood or behavioural concerns, and expect some quick results.  Of course, this is mostly NOT due to bad intent, but more out of fear, worry, and anxiety themselves as parents. 

So how can we manage those expectations realistically?

Consider exploring the following concept or metaphor. 

We all have three minds conceptually. 

1.  Firstly, the feeling mind.  This often reacts before we are conscious of it.  It works in subconscious ways.  It reflects our values, rules, and beliefs. This is our “autopilot”.  Unfortunately, it can be very inaccurate at times, although it is very useful for “cognitive ease”. 

2. The thinking mind.  This is like our “pilot” that tries to override the autopilot at times when it is inaccurate or unreliable.   But this can take up a lot of cognitive load and energy.  It can be exhausting. 

3. Lastly, the observing mind. This is to notice and observe our feeling and thinking mind from a healthy distance to keep it “in check”. This is like our “ground control”.  It’s there to give us more clarity with less bias.

All 3 domains have to work together well in order to arrive us at the desired destination i.e. the life that we want to create. 

This will take a long time. It’s a journey of exploration and growth.  Chances are, it has taken us as adults a long long time and we are still struggling.  

It will be for them too. 

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