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How can you claim credibility?


                Client's Letter........                              ........Our Reply

Dear Warwick

The only information I have is what I read on your web site so please do correct me if necessary.

I believe that you are a secondary teacher and am concerned that you are offering services that related to the behaviour of children, and more importantly young children. Although as a teacher you have general experience within classroom management and as deputy head will have developed whole school behaviour management policies etc, I am unsure how you can then move on to working with individual children with behavioural difficulties, without any formal training and qualifications in this area. Exactly what formal training and qualifications do you have with regards to child psychology, psychotherapy or early childhood behaviour?

While in the UK anyone can offer services in this area (in the same way anyone can call themselves a hypnotherapist or counsellor etc) I am concerned that your web site does not clearly state that your only qualification with regards to child psychology appears to be as teacher. And that would have been gained some twenty years ago when the psychology of children was not covered to any great degree.

I can understand fully that your experience in secondary schools and as deputy head would be beneficial to schools (secondary) with regards to developing whole school behaviour management policies etc however working with individual children, and especially young children, as if a trained specialist, is what really concerns me.

I am an early years specialist, with psychology training, currently working towards an MA in Behavioural and Emotional Development and Special Needs, in addition to training in counselling. I have over ten years experience working within early childhood and primary schools. Only after completing my Masters Degree however will I begin offering services as behaviour management specialist, mainly in schools, and even then when working with individual children on a private basis will make my training and qualifications clear.

Your methods and ideas are not new (or revolutionary) as far as I can see- much of it is text book- and you have produced results by following these. It is not your methods that concerns me- its the fact that the programme gives you credibility in an area that you aren't actually trained. We watch other programmes such as Little Angels where the advisor is a psychotherapist and presume that others we watch are also trained in this area to a high standard, having gone through the whole process of study, observation, reflection etc before gaining the qualification. People will contact you believing that you are a trained professional in this specific area.

If you had remained within an advisory capacity within schools that's one thing- but you seem to be offering consultations with private clients- my concern is that you offer services for babies, toddlers and primary children- and at a pretty expensive rate. Along the lines of the services provided by a qualified psychotherapist.

I understand you do not wish to address my concerns privately and so please do post this on the web site if this is the only way I am to receive a reply.

I look forward to hearing from you


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Dear Xxxxxx,

I am a little puzzled.  You seem to be saying that although there is nothing revolutionary about my methods  "much of it"  in your view "is text book" stuff and although you concede that by following these methods I have  "produced results"  your concerned that the TV programme has given me "credibility" in an area in which  "you aren't actually trained".

I am sure the parents that I have worked with over the years would not agree with your view that  "credibility"  is not connected to skill and results and is really about the route one takes to get the skill. It is clear that you do not realise, within the professional behaviour community, how rare successful behaviour change is.

You seem to think that I have had no training.
I am sure you looked at the  "about"  page on my website.  It does indeed say that I was acting Head of Department in a secondary school but it also says that I was also acting Deputy Head of an infants school which means that I am qualified to teach under fives and was trained to be able to do so.    It also says that I spent considerable time (around 18 years) as a behaviour specialist  advising and training teachers and parents of nursery, infant, junior and secondary children and counselling youngsters.

I could not have done this work without training.  I spent a day each week in formal training for 6 years as well as presenting weekly case-studies for analysis.

I never commence any work with parents until they have signed an agreement - and there is a clear link to this on the parents page.  The clause just above where parents sign states

I claim no other qualification to give you advice than years of working with teachers and parents to change the behaviour of classes and siblings and years of discussions with youngsters about their behaviour and its change.

To be doubly sure, just in case parents do not read the  "about"  page I have put a paragraph about my experience on the parents page as well.

I thank you for giving me this opportunity to make this clear and I hope I have covered the points that you made.

As I have been engaged in changing behaviour professionally for 25 years and you are just starting out I wonder if you would allow me to make a couple of comments.

Firstly there are, as I write, no comprehensive text book's on behaviour change and no book with techniques and suggestions that consistently work.
 [*My own book is an attempt to fill this gap]
Neither is there - as you know - just one main approach to changing behaviour but four: Behavioural; Cognitive Behavioural, Person Centred and Psychodynamic.  Although these disciplines do not see themselves as being compatible with each other many courses teach them as if they are and sometimes even end up creating professions who decide what it is they believe only
after they have qualified.

None of approaches has produced a  "text book"  that could be used in real situations either by parents or those advising them.   The mistaken belief is that families can be fixed from outside.  Detailed advice about what parents should actually
do when their child does X or Y is almost never given and when it is tends to be piecemeal or platitudinous.

Secondly, I know from personal experience that parents that are qualified in these areas are often unable to use their knowledge to change their own chidlren's behaviour.   The four main theories are not compatable with each other and do not seem to provide parents with any detail about what to do.

A highly successful Child Psychologist with whom I worked successfully recently said that she could not send her son to any of her Counsellor colleagues because she knew that they would  "validate"  not just him but his atrocious behaviour.

A Gestalt Therapist with whom I have just finished working said that none of her training was of any use in her attempt to change her daughter's very extreme behaviour.

I  have  worked  with  many behaviour professionals all of whom were completely de-skilled by their children's behaviour. (I am sure, if asked, one or two might agree to talk to you)

The biggest indictment of the training of existing behaviour professionals is that they are all too often prepared to believe that it is possible for the
child to have a behaviour problem on its  own  when "bad behaviour" is always part of an interactional problem.  This is an insight so glaringly obvious that it is only possible not to have it if you are working too far away from these interactions.  Contact once a week or once a fortnight just will not do.

What I have learnt is that what you do comes from what you know but what you really know comes from careful consideration of what you do.  Most behaviour professionals, I am afraid simply because their analysis and skill cannot cope with it, never really put themselves on the line and allow themselves to suffer constant feedback from the results of their advice.

I cannot express highly enough my admiration for the professionals who have been trusting enough to come to me for help.  Many of them put their families in my hands for two reasons only.  For a single fee I make a commitment to work with them continuously until their children's behaviour is changed and ...

I have a near 100% success rate.

Behaviour Change Consultancy


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