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Instructor Interview with Fern Champion

Instructor Interview with Fern Champion

Written by ETIA Admin

Congratulations Fern you have successfully completed your first Parent Effectiveness Training course. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you! I am a Mum of two lovely little people aged 5 and 3 years. We live in a small coastal town called Diamond Beach on the NSW mid-north coast. I work as a school psychologist in a number of local schools and also teach yoga to adults and children at our local yoga studio. I am a lover of nature, surfing, yoga and running.

How did you first hear about P.E.T.? 

In my work roles, and especially since becoming a Mum, I have explored ideas of respectful and mindful parenting. In early 2020 I felt a strong call to deepen my skills in this area so that I could support other parents on this journey. I began scouring the internet for parenting courses that align with my values as a parent and psychologist and lucky for me I stumbled upon P.E.T. The timing couldn’t have been better as there was a facilitator training beginning in the very next month.

What inspired you to become a P.E.T. instructor?

Working with children, young people and their families has always been my passion. As a Uni student studying psychology in my early 20’s I found myself in a developmental psychology course. During a topic on child abuse and neglect I had a lifechanging moment where I realised that my purpose in life was to be an advocate and support person for vulnerable children and young people. I have stayed true to that path since that very moment.

The further I moved along that path the more I realised that supporting parents is the earliest form of intervention we can offer in supporting children. This knowledge inspired me to become a P.E.T. instructor.

Tell us your experience of conducting your first P.E.T. course?

I found the experience of running my first course to be the absolute best kind of learning. It enhanced my knowledge of the course content greatly as I was deep diving into the content to prepare before each session. It also confirmed for me that I can create a safe space for a group of people to really engage, share and be vulnerable.

I enjoyed navigating the different mediums the course employs such as role plays, brain storming activities, workbook activities and PowerPoint presentations. As a facilitator these varied mediums gave me great scope to make the course fun and engaging. I learned during the course that I am not as bad at technology as I thought!

What I enjoyed the most during the course were the rich discussions that came out of the content. Some of the most valuable learning and sharing was done when discussions wandered off on a tangent.

One thing I would do differently next course would be to allow more time at the end of the final session for participants’ reflection and sharing. There was so much that each participant wanted to say at this point which surprised me a little but also made me realise how impactful and beneficial the course had been for each of them.

How did you gather your first group of participants and where did you hold your course?

The journey to conducting my first P.E.T. course was quite a long and winding one thanks to the COVID pandemic and related lockdowns/restrictions. I had arranged with one of the primary schools I work at to run my first course for parents from the school in the school hall. I worked hard to share information about the course with parents from the school through the school newsletter, flyers, an information session and phone calls.

I had 12 lovely parents signed up and ready to go and all the resources for the course in my office. However, the day before the course was set to start the school went into learning from home restrictions and no one was allowed on the school site. I was so disappointed!

I decided to wait for a more stable time and rearranged to run the course at the yoga studio I work at instead. By the time I finally ran the course it was almost a whole year later and I was so ready to jump into it. The majority of participants were the original parents I had signed up from the school one year prior.

What were the significant areas of growth and change for your participants after completing the P.E.T. course?

Participants highlighted a number of areas of growth for themselves and their families at the end of the course. One Mum said “I feel I am now more open and honest about my feelings to my children and I’m showing more empathy to my partner’s needs”. Another Mum simply said “I am talking less and listening more”. And from another Mum “my area of acceptance has genuinely grown!”. A number of participants identified the wonderful impacts they were having from using active listening with their children. One Dad said “I have resolved so many problems with my child using active listening”. As a facilitator witnessing these shifts was the most rewarding part of teaching the course.

What are your future plans as a P.E.T. Instructor?

Moving forward, I hope to incorporate teaching P.E.T. courses into my role as a school psychologist. I feel that schools can be a great hub for sharing the respectful parenting skills that P.E.T. offers. I also value being able to offer the P.E.T. course at the cost of materials only which I am able to do through my role in schools.

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for new instructors who are hesitating or are about to conduct their first course?

Approach your first course with an attitude of fun and curiosity. It is OK if you are still learning along the way. There is no point at which we stop learning or know it all! So jump on in and have a go. The course content is so fabulous that you can’t go wrong.

ETIA Admin

ETIA Admin


The Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia (ETIA) Ltd is a not-for-profit, community based organisation that is dedicated to making courses in communication and conflict resolution skills available and accessible to all people in Australia.

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Loving Family | About ETIA

About ETIA

The Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia (ETIA) Ltd is a not-for-profit, community based organisation that is dedicated to making courses in communication and conflict resolution skills available and accessible to all people in Australia.

ETIA’s mission is to provide individuals with effective communication and conflict resolution skills to build connected, harmonious relationships.

Our inspiration and programs come from the late Dr Thomas Gordon who is the author and founder of Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) program and Gordon Training International (GTI).

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