The Process of Coaching Parents and Tribes

Given the new and unusual work that I do, I often get asked to explain exactly what I do with coaching parents. This blog aims to describe my Family Service Coaching role and begins with an excerpt from my newly published book.

Becoming Chief, how to lead your child’s special needs tribe – Book Excerpt

“As an occupational therapist and professionally trained life coach, I have worked alongside individuals with disabilities, their families and service providers for decades. My profession has taken me through various states, countries, employers and teams, and the most creative and energising work has been during my twenty years of self-employment. Throughout my experience, I’ve observed the space that exists between you, your child and the range of service providers that you interact with. This space is a source of frustration for some, communication across the team may not be as good as it should be and goals, plans and programs may never feel quite organised. Essentially this space between you, your child and service providers presents a great, untapped resource of energy and expertise. Imagine what life could be like if everybody was in sync and pulled in the same direction. And this book will show you how to manage this space through conversations, strategies, tools and plans. All with the purpose of achieving brilliant outcomes for your child.”

Becoming Chief coverBecoming Chief, how to lead your child’s special needs tribe is a guide book written for parents who have a child with special needs. All the tough topics are covered, wonderful real life stories told and practical parent friendly tips are shared. Purchase your copy here, free postage Australia wide.

I have selected this paragraph of my book to share as for me, it neatly captures the complexity of children with special needs, their families and their professional tribes. In complexity lies opportunity and this is the wonderful space that I spend much of my working week working in. Think of my Family Service Coach role as glue, sticking all the pieces together to make a brilliant whole life picture for a child.

My meetings with a new family a couple of weeks ago illustrates my work beautifully. I met with both parents in the evening; it is really important to bring partners to the table. I scribbled frantically as the parents listed the double figured tribe of professionals providing services to the child. They ranged across the private and public sectors, they didn’t know each other, they didn’t communicate, they didn’t have a common focus. Sound familiar? At my suggestion, the parents had copies of all the most recent reports and notes ready for me to devour. Amidst the paperwork there were no clear goal statements, the parents were able to describe in broad terms what each was working on and what the therapy sessions looked like. They were keen to do more at home, but were unsure what to do, they felt that weren’t ‘the experts’. Oh my goodness, I nearly leapt out of my skin, parents are the experts, the absolute experts.

I sought permission to communicate with each professional and emailed them all during coming days. Phone calls were scheduled thereafter. A bigger picture of both where services were at and where the child was perceived to be at was gleaned.

The goals setting process was next. Together with both parents we worked for SMARTER goals. Goals that are as measurable as possible and also evaluated and revised. No point having goals, ticking the box and filing them. They need to be front of mind and systematically worked towards. The goals setting process helped focus who was required on the child’s team. The mission was to secure the right people, to do the right things, at the right time and for the right reason. The child’s therapy program was tweaked; more of one service, less of another. The location was changed, in this case a switch to school based service with monthly home visits. A communication protocol was issued to all treating professionals which clearly stated team wide expectations. Collaboration with school staff, therapist and parents was enhanced, team wide communication supported this along with active involvement in meetings and with curriculum adjustments. The aim is to get families and services providers to work together even more closely. The pieces pulled together surprisingly quickly and the whole child picture emerged. Yes it is a work in progress, all great teams are, but the tribe was starting to tick.

My role is now to stand with parents to ensure the program goal focused, cohesive and effective. Virtual meetings are brief and future focused. Challenges are unpacked and solved collaboratively with parents at the helm of all decisions and action steps. My mission as a Family Service Coach is to manage myself out of the family, leaving them with enhanced confidence, knowledge and leadership skills. That said, I am always available to quietly guide and loudly celebrate. Such a privilege.

You are most welcome to read more about my work, there’s lots to discover on my website

I invite you to book in for a complimentary 20 minute Family Service Coaching consult. Let’s get the conversation started, click on through to my email with your preferred days and times. Yes evening suit me nicely. I look forward to hearing from you.

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