Please tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a mum of 3 awesome girls. I have lived on the Sunshine Coast for 15 years and have been doing community work for 20+ years.
How did you first hear about P.E.T.?
When I started working as a Family Support Worker at the Caloundra Community Centre in 2015, my team leader recommended I attend the 8-week course in Maleny with Leeann Horrill.
What inspired you to become a P.E.T. instructor?
I was inspired by the simplicity and gentleness of the program – listening to your child – who knew? Supporting little ones to brainstorm solutions to their own problems – wow! I wanted the tools for my own parenting and to pass onto the parents that I work with. I have seen it work first-hand in my own home, from a child who once told me feelings were embarrassing, now tells me how appreciative she is for the things I do for the family.
Catherine, you have conducted a number of Parent Effectiveness Training courses at the Community Centre where you work. Please tell us about that, how you are funded, and how you gather your participants?
I am a case manager in the Secondary Family Support program at the Caloundra Community Centre, funded through the Department of Child Safety. The participants for the P.E.T. courses come through the families I work with, and my co-worker will refer their clients to the course too. We advertise through the community centre newsletter, Facebook page, the playgroups we run, word of mouth and through local schools.
I’ve had a few parents return to do the course a second time, stating how much they got from it second time around as they aren’t trying to consume all the information at once.
Tell us your personal experience of conducting P.E.T. courses, what you are learning about yourself, what you are enjoying the most, what you have learnt/methods that work well when you teach the course.
I was terrified conducting my first course – how was I going to keep all of this information in my head, and get it out in a way that made sense to others? I survived, learnt as I was going, and now I thoroughly enjoy bringing a group of strangers together and watching them form a relationship based on their common experience of parenting.
What I find works well is bringing the lessons back to what each participant values, and this is set up at the beginning of the course by asking the group, “what do you want for your future 18-25-year-old?” Each week, through each step, I am able to bring the skill we are learning, to a value / future goal the parents have for their future adult child.
What have been the significant areas of growth and change for your participants whilst completing the P.E.T. course? Also please share about the follow up sessions you conduct and what works well?
The two most significant areas of growth that I receive feedback on is the parent’s ability to ‘active listen’ their child and problems solve issues together. Parents tell me that they had no idea how much their child was holding in, or what was really going on until the parent ‘shut their mouth’ (as one parent said). They also love the idea of problem solving as it removes the responsibility of having to have all the answers – and this removes the blame if it doesn’t work.
I offer a 9th week to the group approximately 5-6 weeks later, where we catch up over morning tea. We talk about what’s working, what needs more clarification, and also offer one-on-one sessions if needed. This is where I get most of the feedback as they’ve had a chance to put their new skills into practice.
What are your future plans as an Instructor?
To continue to run the free course for the Community Centre. I often use the skills when case managing parents one-on-one, and slip taste-testers into other groups that I run.
Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for new instructors who are hesitating or are about to conduct their first course?
Be up front and honest about what stage of your learning journey that you are on. No one will now if you miss something, you can always pick it up later. What’s your value regarding this? – remind yourself of why you are doing the course. And doubt your doubts.