"Parenting Beyond Consequences"

Heather T. Forbes, LCSW

Children need unconditional love and unconditional acceptance from their parents; we all know this and believe this. However, do we ever stop to consider how so many of the traditional parenting techniques accepted in our culture work contrary to this primal goal? Traditional parenting techniques that involve consequences, controlling directives, and punishment are fear-based and fear-driven. They have the ability to undermine the parent-child relationship and because they are tied into behavior, children easily interpret these actions to mean, "If I'm not good, I am not lovable." Thus, children often build a subconscious foundation that says that love and approval is...

"Teaching Trauma in the Classroom"

Heather T. Forbes, LCSW, Focus on Adoption, 2013

Children are vulnerable. In an optimal environment, they are not expected to experience this vulnerability until later in life when their minds and nervous systems are equipped to handle elevated levels of fear, stress, and overwhelm. Yet, the key phrase here is “optimal environment.” Unfortunately, we live in the “real” world, so children will often find themselves in situations that are far from the optimal and the result can be childhood trauma. Childhood trauma happens at both the emotional and psychological level and it can have a negative impact on the child’s developmental process. During a traumatic event (abuse, neglect, adoption, accidents, birth trauma, etc.)...


"Why Tokens Aren't Working"

Heather T. Forbes, LCSW, Adoption Today, 2014

If you finish your chores today, you’ll earn 5 more tokens and that will help you get to your goal of 25 by the weekend, Billy!” And Billy turns to his mother and says, “It’s your damn house, you do the f***ing  chores!”, slams his door, and remains in his room the rest of the day.

Using tokens as rewards or motivators for our adopted or foster children not only does not work, it often makes it worse. There are several reasons for this, all of which stem from one word: Trauma. Trauma. Any child who has lost his biological family, either temporarily or permanently, has experienced trauma. The event or events that led to this trauma were experiences....

"Issues Facing Adoptive Mothers"

Heather T. Forbes, LCSW, Adoption Today, 2014

Abstract Summary: Intensive interviews were conducted with 14 adoptive mothers, which identified 16 challenges adoptive mothers face when adopting children with special needs. The purpose was to specify and understand the issues these mothers of special needs children present when seeking professional therapy. The intent was also to increase awareness in the field of adoption. Findings: Findings indicated that these adoptive mothers were faced with a broad range of issues relating to societal, health, emotional, family, financial, and child behavioral factors.

"Adoption: What Would Drive a Mother to Do the Unthinkable?"
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW, submitted to the New York Times Op-Ed Sept 2011

David Polreis, Logan Higginbotham, Luke Evans, Jacob Lindorff, Maria Bennett…meet just some of the 15 adopted Russian children killed in the U.S. at the hands of their adoptive parents since 1996.

And now, Justin Hansen… sent back to Russia without love.

What would drive a mother to do the unthinkable? Torry Hansen’s story is not an isolated case. In fact, it’s much more common than we’d like to believe. In a research study of adoptive mothers, 93% stated they had at times, turned into a hateful and miserable ....

"Your Child is Misbehaving,
Are You Listening?"
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW, Fostering Families Today, 2014

When reviewing records of many of the children with whom I work, I am forever perplexed at one particular notation I continually see written by therapists and counselors. Under the list of negative traits of the child, it is often written, “Child exhibits attention-seeking behaviors.” I strongly believe that children seek attention because they NEED attention. Nature has designed children to be completely dependent on their parents at the moment they are born. A baby crying is the signaling to the parent the baby has a need, a need that the baby cannot satisfy on his own. The baby is indeed exhibiting attention-seeking behaviors....

"Teenagers, Trauma, and Trusting in
the Power of Relationships"
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW, Fostering Families Today, 2009

“Oh!  Teenagers!”  Have you ever found yourself saying this or over-heard another parent saying this with an exasperated tone to her voice?

Raising teenagers takes parents to a whole new level.  In order to rise to this occasion without exasperation and frustration, it takes understanding our teenagers at an entirely new level. This is especially true for foster parents raising teenagers who have experienced traumatic and unpredictable childhoods prior to being in their homes.

The following are four important factors....

"Effective Back-to-School
Strategies for Parents"
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW

Who has more fear about heading back to school, you or your child? If we’re honest with this question, we find that as parents we become overwhelmed at many different levels. “Will my child’s teacher(s) understand him or simply react to him?” “How can I get the school to see my child as a traumatized child, not a defiant child?” “How am I going to maintain my work if the school keeps calling me like they did last year?” “What are the afternoons going to be like once homework starts up again…Oh, goodness!”

And the list goes on and on. Past experiences with schools have been negative for many parents and just the thought of going back to school can give them and their child a magnified stress-response. This....

"Attachment Disorders"
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW

An attachment disorder occurs when a child (or adult) has difficulty connecting in an interpersonal relationship with his/her attachment figure (for a child this would be the child’s caretaker – parent, grandparent, etc.). Children develop attachment challenges when their early life experiences are challenged by parents and caretakers who are too stressed and dysregulated to stay attuned to the child’s signals for needs.  Babies and young children do not have a regulatory system equipped to calm themselves or to self-soothe.  It is the parent’s biological responsibility to provide this regulatory presence for a child. If the child goes without this calming parental presence, the child’s....

"Re-Examing Play Therapy - with
the Parents"
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW & Sophia Fziegielewski, PhD, LCSW, Accredited Continuing Education Training, 2004

Play therapy has been viewed as a traditional recommendation for therapeutic help, or when a child is in a crisis or a parent is having behavioral difficulties with the child. Allowing a child to play out stress within a controlled therapeutic play environment with the help of a therapist has been an accepted model of treatment. While play therapy has often been seen as a model of choice, the authors suggest this approach is restrictive and limiting because it does not include parental participation. It is suggested that serious consideration always be given to include the parent's direct participation in a....

"Attachment and Adoption"
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW

Before understanding the extent of the specific issues, it is important to acknowledge that adoptive parenting of a child with special needs is different from parenting a child without special needs. Although adoptive parents may face many of the same child-rearing issues as biological parents, adoptive parents of children with special needs face numerous issues related directly to traumatic experiences of the child. Adoptive parents often find that this significantly alters the balance of the family system, resulting in overt stress and disequilibrium, sometimes to the extent that the child is returned to foster care or to the adoption agency. 

The demands and stress that result....

"Going Beyond the Behaviours: How to Heal From the Impact of Early Trauma"
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW, Adoption Now, 2008

In order to understand the meaning of tall, we need to understand the meaning of short. To know if something is hot, we must be familiar with something cold. Likewise, good is relative to bad, wet is relative to dry, and happy is relative to sad. The same is true in understanding the impact of early childhood trauma and abuse on a child. We need to first understand the impact of positive early childhood experiences in order to understand the impact of negative early childhood experiences. With the comparison of this information, we can have insight into knowing how to parent and connect with a child who....

"Reactive Attachment Disorder:
A New Understanding"
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a mental health diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IVTR) under disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence. RAD was initially introduced to the mental health community some 20 years ago. Since that time, much of the information regarding this disorder has painted a dismal and often dangerous picture of these children. Books and articles have compared children with RAD to serial killers, rapists, and hard-core criminals. Intensive and often physically aggressive therapies have been ....

"The Power of Parenting"
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW

A couple of days ago, I was attending a small group meeting and in order to introduce a few new members at this group, an ice breaker was given. We were asked to go around the room and in the spirit of Labor Day, tell not what we did for a living but what our parents did for a living when we were growing up. Several of the participants, after describing credentialed careers of high cultural status of their fathers, remarked, "But my mom was just a housewife."

Just a housewife! How sad I was to hear this coming from grown men and women who had their mothers home with them to support them, guide them, and teach them around the clock. Parenting is the most....

Contact us today for more information:

Beyond Consequences Institute, LLC

1630A 30th Street Suite 488

Boulder, CO 80301

Tel:  303.993.8379

Fax: 321.206.2067

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