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About Us

Vanessa Lewis

Vanessa LewisWho am I?

What drives me to help parents?

Why do I think I’ve got answers for you?

How did I get to launch Peaceful Parenting online?

Being a counsellor and life coaching is just part of my skills. Throughout my journey as a therapist, I have collected a number of techniques and gained the knowledge that helped me and now helps parents of children of all ages.  That’s right.. all ages.  Some parents seem to think that it’s just the early years you need to focus on.  I know better… the teenagers through to the young adults will provide just as much challenges and… it’s what happens in the early years for your children that determines how much trouble your teens give you.  Then add to that… your ability to parent effectively is directly related to how you were brought up!  How your family adapted to life challenges (like deaths, divorce, war, immigration etc) and how you learned to survive that and adapt.  These are the challenges we all face when it comes to parenting.

But first, a little bit more about me…  Starting out at the early age of 19, as a stressed out single mother, I gave birth to a highly active, head strong little boy (later diagnosed with ADHD) who taught me that my parenting approach (that was modeled on my parents being the authoritarian style), just wasn’t working. My son reacted by fighting back in a desperate bid to be right and heard.  The louder I yelled, the louder he responded and the quicker we dissolved into fighting and no one was the winner.  I tried rewards, counting (on 3 meant punishment), time outs and anything else I could to get control of him, to no avail.

Luckily, I’m a reflective person, I deeply adored him and wanted a better relationship… and I’m persistent and good at problem solving.  Through trial and error and facing many challenges along the way including:

  • starting a new relationship where neither son or partner really cared for each other 
  • moving house and schools which caused major problems for my son
  • getting married to the man that my son rejected
  • school disasters (with my son acting out and being asked to leave at age 8) and 
  • having another surprise pregnancy 10 years after my son (my lovely daughter) 

I had plenty of experiences to reflect on and learn what worked and what didn’t.  My son, was my greatest teacher!  I eventually realised that he responded much better to a relationship built on respect, being real, being trustworthy, feeling safe, working out and attending to his needs and expressing my emotions and concerns calmly and negotiating win-win situations with him.  This worked better than any other parenting skill I read, learned or came across.

My other break through came when I was studying counselling. I discovered the power of listening and was finally able to step out of the middle of the constant arguments between my son and husband.  I began to uncover their needs and help them meet them.  Peace began to prevail in the household.

Of course, child number 2 had the benefit of all of this experience and knowledge and is currently cruising through high school.

Other contributing factors that lead me here included that I volunteered early in my study to work for Parentline ACT Inc. as a telephone counsellor and also did face to face counselling for parents.  From there I went onto becoming a family counsellor for families of adolescents for the YMCA.  For both organisations I  taught parenting classes based on Parent Effectiveness Training.  In my sessions with individuals I used Emotional Freedom Techniques (tapping) to help parents release old thought patterns and damage caused by early childhood trauma.  I then discovered the power of Family Constellation Therapy to help uncover family dynamics and entanglements with the past.  This gave me a whole new understanding of parenting, attachment (the secure bond between parent and child) and the impact of family secrets and trauma.

But enough about me…

Below is some more information about some of the knowledge and experience that I have learned and integrated into my practice.  Please, read on if you’re interested…

Parenting & Attachment
  As I mentioned above, whilst working with Parentline I was lucky to be trained as a Parent Effectiveness Trainer (PET), which is a model of parenting that is over 50 years old, taught in over 75 countries and is still applicable when I look at the theory of attachment, trauma and brain development for children.  What is so great about PET(™) is that the skills it provides can be applied in all your relationships at any age.

However, what prevents people from applying these skills, even with all the knowledge in the world is the ability to self reflect, and unfortunately PET training doesn’t reinforce this skill.   Many of us have not been taught how to self reflect, how to attune to your child’s needs and how to self regulate largely because there has been no role model.

In my training with attachment and trauma, and with understanding child brain development, I have learned how the most important role a parent has… protecting a child’s developing mind.  That isn’t just physically putting a helmet on, it’s responding appropriately to your child’s needs so that they feel safe enough to grow and explore and learn how to be in this world.  With the information gained through my Circle of Security (™) training, (Cooper, Hoffman, Marvin and Powell) and trauma informed training, it becomes so very clear as to why we need to protect the developing brain.  The stumbling block I found is that in this training, parents aren’t often taught the skills to connect with their child.

So to me, the perfect marriage has been to teach parents about attachment, attunement and connection using the skills from PET.  It works every time, in every situation and gives parents the road map to help not only their child, but also themselves.

About Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
The history of meridian tapping began with Dr. George Goodheart, a leading chiropractor who found he could use acupuncture points beneficially for physical conditions by just “tapping” on them (no needles were needed!).

An Australian psychiatrist, John Diamond, M.D., then took this discovery a step further. He began using verbal affirmations as the patient was stimulating the acupuncture points. This was a major step forward as it introduced a psychological tool into the process. But still the treatment method lacked a cohesive “engine” to drive it forward with real effectiveness. That engine was supplied by Dr. Roger Callahan, an American psychologist specializing in anxiety disorders.

Dr. Callahan’s contribution was immense and has been well documented. Through his interest in acupuncture and his awareness of the use of the value of tapping on acupressure points, he made a key discovery upon which all later meridian tapping methods are based. Callahan found that if a person is focusing on a specific fear at the time they tap, that fear can be removed, often permanently. He developed his discovery into a complete system and concluded that there was a correct tapping sequence for every emotional issue, and that this could be determined for each individual through the use of muscle testing. He called these tapping sequences “algorithms” and his treatment became known as Thought Field Therapy, or TFT.

Dr. Callahan’s work, although brilliant and groundbreaking, was however quite complex and difficult to master because different algorithms were required for each one of the numerous disorders studied. The next step was the creation of simplified versions of Callahan’s technique. These were known as “single algorithm techniques” (i.e. they did not require diagnosis or muscle testing). Dr. Pat Carrington’s early method, Accutap, was one of the very first single algorithm methods, predating EFT by about seven years and there may have been others who devised similar adaptations of Callahan’s method. Then, in the 1990’s, quite independently of any former single-algorithm methods, one of Roger Callahan’s pupils, Gary Craig, unveiled a major development of the meridian tapping techniques which he called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Today his single algorithm method, EFT, is the lead tapping technique.

Several therapeutic approaches have now been developed which are based on using EFT as the method of release. One such method is Matrix Re-imprinting which allows for the easy retrieval and release of traumatic memories. This is a significant steps as it has been determined that traumatic experiences create belief systems which can cause anxiety, depression, illness, pain in the body and create havoc in building the necessary trust required in relationships and families. Using this method (Matrix Re-imprinting) can literally change a persons life both physically and mentally.

About Family Constellation Therapy
Check out this page on Family & Systemic Constellation therapy and also the FAQs page for commonly asked questions.

Education

  • Adv Dip Counselling & Communication
  • Cert IV Training & Assessment
  • Master NLP Results Coach
  • Parent Effectiveness Trainer
  • Circle of Security (Attachment Theory and attachment assessment)
  • Family & Systemic Constellation Facilitator
  • Master EFT Trainer and Advanced Practitioner
  • Matrix Re-Imprinting Practitioner

Member of

  • Association for the Advancement of Energy Therapy – aamet.org
  • International Systemic Constellations Association – isca-network.org