Attunement to heal - Tuning into your adopted child and to yourself - CACH 2013 Write-up

Mark O’Connell gave an excellent talk on attunement to a packed house. Mark outlined the circumstances in which adoptive families find themselves in through the making of families from disparate individuals with pasts, fully or partially unknown to one another. He led the audience to consider how significant their own childhood and early experiences are in this blending with other individuals, and how important working towards a place of attunement and resonance amongst, and between family members is, in order to be able to stabilise and grow.

Mark comes from diverse experience standpoints working as a professional psychotherapist with looked after children and young people, supporting their careers and foster/adoptive parents, in a private practise work, and crucially also as an adoptive parent to two daughters from China.

He focused our minds on finding resonance with our children through becoming aware of moments of positive feedback between ourselves and our children, in a similar sense to the resonance found in harmonious musical, pattern, and colour arrangements. He stressed and encouraged us to find places and situations of resonance through just being and living life together, rather than by thinking of it as a goal or task to complete.

A good part of the session included questions and sharing of experiences from the floor, during which Mark encouraged us to see the process of attunement as creating an atmosphere of value, respect, and trust within an emerging child/parent bond.

He directed our focus to the benefits which emerge from this place of value – healing of past trauma, creating an atmosphere of safety and possibility, regulating stress reactions, and lessening feelings of overwhelm through encouraging and allowing children to unfold their pasts at their own points of readiness. Importantly, Mark very much stressed that “being” in this way with our children (and as whole families) is beneficial to all parties, as it is all (in the family) who can gradually co - create a climate in which our children as individuals can thrive and prosper.

Amanda Brook.