The Neurobiologically-Effective Adult Support


01 Nov

Different societies, cultures,  "fashions",  books, and different upbringings lead parents to believe in, or  try to adopt a variety of styles when they parent their child.  Yet when Nature "designed" human brains and bodies, it did not have either human cultural preferences or opinions in mind.  In other words, what children need may or may not differ from what popular opinion or societal/cultural norm says they need.  

Decades of research has shown that in order to develop brains and bodies that are healthy, children require certain key types of support by caring adults who are able to provide the right BALANCE of both boundaries and limits, and emotionally available and open responsiveness to their children even when their children are crying, misbehaving or upset (Gerhardt 2012, Neufeld 2006).  The world of psychology calls this type of support, "Secure Attachment".  What this is, in essence, is the type of support that can optimize the neurobiological development of the brain and body of an infant/child, in such a manner that the child has LESS risk of developing mental health or physical health issues, even in adult years (Felitti 2017; Harvard's Men Study, Waldinger).  

I propose that we have arrived at a point in our understanding of the brain and the central role of attachment trauma in the development of mental health disorders, that we can start thinking of  "Secure Attachment" as "Neurobiologically-Effective Support" from an adult who has more resources than the child(than the supported person), because that is exactly what it is.   How does this differ from "Brain-based parenting"? In essence, it isn't different. However, the wording difference allows us, as doctors, trauma-educators, therapists, or counsellors, to address this common misconception (that support is what is socially accepted as support) more directly. For example,  when parents, or their concerned friends come to us and say, "So-and-so is a child with supportive parents, but..", or "In our culture, we raise children this way,"  it becomes easier  to remember that the said parents may or may not be providing 'neurobiologically-effective' support.  This helps one avoid the trap of being 'primed' into thinking that what we were told ( "the child has supportive parents") might be equivalent to the child receiving from its parents "neurobiologically-effective" support. 

In addition, this semantic reframing can make it easier to understand why certain approaches work better not only in parenting, but also when caring for patients or clients in a trauma-informed manner, or when working with trauma survivors in any field. To find out why and how, attend our 3 day workshop in Banff in 2021 (see Events Page).