In a clinical world of diagnosable disabilities, there are those who create theories, those who propose methodologies, and those who ascribe to them. And then there are people who simply do what they do, intuitively, without knowing the science behind their actions. I recently met such a couple, Michelle and Troy Wheeler. They founded Dream Theatre Inc., eight years ago in Roseville, California, as a year-round, full-time theater arts program for adults with disabilities (ages 18 to 64). The program was designed to instruct, develop and guide students with disabilities who want to become actors, musicians, dancers, visual artists and behind-the-curtain technicians. While many day programs teach daily living skills, the Wheelers guide students in relationship building and maintenance with a focus on the social engagement skills necessary to facilitate them (i.e. inter and intrapersonal communication skills, self and co-affect regulation, trust, self-confidence, and more). Within the context of classes and annual performances, students learn how to be part of a working community that involves team work and personal responsibility.
Heather L. Corwin, PhD, earned her doctorate in clinical psychology with a somatic concentration, her MFA is in Theater. Heather’s work is driven by the principle that awareness fosters choices in the body and the mind, and that all people can use more support to facilitate evolving into who we want to become.
Some say that it takes a village to raise a child into a well-functioning adult and it probably does. But without an entire village of free childcare, we are often left with books to fill in the gaps. Today hundreds of books claim to outline the “right way” of parenting. This often leads parents to listen to conflicting advice which is not only confusing to the parents but also to the children. Author of The Reflective Parent: How to Do Less and Relate More with Your Kids, experienced psychiatrist and founder of the Center for Reflective Communities, Regina Pally, comes from a more ground up approach to parenting. She argues that “there is a lot more leeway in parenting” (xi). As a young parent raising her three children, she had read all the parenting books and was left “feeling less confident than before” (xi). Through her pediatric, psychiatric and psychoanalytic training, clinical work, studies in neuroscience and personal experiences, Pally “learned that a parent’s reflective capacity is the factor most closely associated with healthy child development.” (xi) Throughout this book, ideas and skills required for reflective parenting are interwoven with what we know today about child development, the neuroscience of human social relationships and parent-child relationships. The Reflective Parent is a practical and easy-to-read guide for anyone looking to build stronger relationships with their children.
It is no surprise that a child prefers its mother’s voice to those of strangers. Beginning in the womb, a foetus’s developing auditory pathways sense the sounds and vibrations of its mother. Soon after birth, a child can identify its mother’s voice and will work to hear her voice better over unfamiliar female voices.