National Conference 2013 Report
Needs, Rights and Voices – What about the Children? - Dr Carole Ulanowsky
The Long Term Effects of Adverse Experiences in the Early Years - Robin Balbernie
Based on his clinical practice Robin Balbernie outlined the processes by which abused and neglected children experience fear in what should be a nurturing and loving relationship. As a consequence traumatic attachment develops; a simultaneous activation of two incompatible responses fear (avoidance) and attachment (approach). The longer term effects on a child of neglect and abuse can be seen in poor impulse control shallow relationships, inability to experience and express empathy and an unwillingness to trust others. From society's view point this may show itself in high rates of mental health problems, drug and alcohol misuse, risky sexual behaviour, obesity and criminal behaviour.
On a personal note, Robin reassured many members of the audience, myself included, that parents only had to get it right 30% of the time to be a 'good enough' parent.
Secure Attachments, Empathy and Self Regulation - David Howe
David Howe started his lively presentation by outlining the elements of psychological and physical well-being. He referred to the work of evolutionary psychologists, who showed how the development of empathy was essential to the development of the species.
He then went on to consider how we develop empathy and the role of attachment in that process. Essential to the process is the increasing abililty of the child to control its emotions - to self regulate, which is of course essential to social stability and social cohesion. None of us, he pointed out, is born with the capacity to regulate our own emotions. We are helped to do so by sensitive and attuned regulation by a loving carer. Infants who fail to receive this care will suffer poor health, experience more stress, are less likely to succeed and are likely to fall foul of the criminal justice system.
The Goodman Lecture 2013 - Sir Denis Pereira Gray