Foundations Course for Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this course designed for?

This course is designed for Licensed Marriage and Family Counselors, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors, Licensed Educational Psychologists, medical professionals who work with parents, children, and families, early childhood educators and child care providers, faith-based community leaders, community outreach workers, and others who work with parents and/or children in their professions.

What is the Hand in Hand Parenting approach all about? How is it different from other approaches?

At the heart of Hand in Hand Parenting is one very simple idea: children’s feelings play a deeply useful role in their lives. There are four fundamental principles behind Hand in Hand Parenting that are related to this simple concept:

1) Connection is absolutely vital to the well-being of children. Being in good connection with parents and caregivers who are tuned in to their emotional state allows children to learn well, build loving relationships, and adjust flexibly to the changes that life brings.

2) Children often go through challenging experiences they can’t fully comprehend, which can cause big upsets to arise. When this happens, they feel disconnected and aren’t always able to tell us how they’re feeling. Instead, they signal to us through off-track behavior (e.g. whining, inflexibility, impulsivity, aggression, etc.).

3) We can help children heal from this sense of broken connection by listening to them and understanding that their emotional expression is part of a natural recovery process. Listening is the cornerstone of this approach. Hand in Hand offers four listening tools that parents can use to listen to their children with love and attention so the children have a chance to cry, have a tantrum, or laugh when life becomes too overwhelming. These listening tools help children reconnect with their parents and heal from hurt. Our experience as well as current research tells us that having a chance to release tension in these ways allows children to once again engage flexibly and lovingly with the people around them.

4) Listening well to their children on a regular basis isn’t easy for parents! It helps greatly when a parent is listened to regularly themselves. Hand in Hand offers two listening tools that parents can use to build support for themselves so they can replenish their energies and do the important emotional work of parenting.

For more information about this approach, read the article Partnering with Your Child by Patty Wipfler.

How will I be able to use the Hand in Hand Parenting Listening Tools in my professional practice? What benefits can taking this class bring to my practice?

The Hand in Hand Parenting approach is both concrete and profound. The five Listening Tools we teach can provide immediate support and relief to an overwhelmed parent, and offer the possibility of long-term transformation, depending on what a parent is ready for and open to. You will feel confident in adding these tools alongside other approaches you may use to work with adult and child clients. Because the Hand in Hand Parenting approach is a non-judgmental, respectful, and strength-based approach to parenting, your clients will find themselves feeling deeply respected and accepted by you, which will in turn inspire them to make the changes necessary to move forward in their lives.

Are there any prerequisites for taking this course?

No. Although we do suggest that you take the Hand in Hand Foundations Course for Parents & Caregivers in order to become familiar with our Listening Tools, we don’t require it. Our experience shows that the mentoring we give is useful regardless of the level of a person’s experience with Hand in Hand. If you are already experienced with using this approach in your family and want to hone these skills in your line of work, then the mentoring serves to help you go deeper into the approach and how best to share it well with your clients.

What are the requirements for taking this course?

You’ll want to have a work or family situation that gives you contact with parents and/or children, and bring a willingness to try our Listening Tools either at home or at work. You will also need:

  • Access to a computer
  • High-speed internet access that allows for consistent signal for zoom calls

What is it like to be in the Foundations Course for Professionals? What kind of experience might I expect?

The classes will include a mixture of instruction, sharing of personal experience as each participant tries our Listening Tools, mentoring in the use of the approach, and group listening time that is grounded in the tenets of our approach.

Participants will learn from one another and from their own personal emotional work in the class. We will focus only lightly on the relationship of Hand in Hand Parenting theory to the professional training you have had, so there is time to emphasize the experiential learning you will do at work and at home with the Listening Tools.

Must I have a professional license before I can take this course?

No. However, we do ask that you have a clientele you are working with, as you will be applying these tools in your practice and sharing your experiences from week to week.

What happens if I miss a class or class call?

We suggest you make every effort to attend all the class calls. Being a part of the group is a big part of the learning process. Also, according to CAMFT guidelines, every call miss will cost you a continuing education unit.

If I decide I want to do the Foundations Course for Parents & Caregivers first, will that be okay? How should I do that?

Yes, of course. You are welcome to take any one of our Foundations Courses. If you are looking for an in-person class in your area, you can check the Local In-Person calendar page. If you are looking for an online Foundations Course, please check the Online Parenting Classes calendar page.

Will I be able to teach the Hand in Hand Parenting listening skills to the parents I work with? If so, how would I go about doing that?

The Foundations Course for Professionals will certainly help you add these listening tools to your toolbox, and there are a couple of ways in which you can share these skills with the parents that you work with: You could lead a Parent Resource Group, which is a structured meeting of parents who listen and talk about the things that matter to them as parents. You can find more details about how to do this in our “Leading a Parent Resource Group” booklet.

I am not a parent. Is it viable for me to both learn and teach these skills to my clients?

Yes. Practicing the listening tools is a lot easier when you have a child at home. However, if you have regular access to children through your practice, you’ll be able to practice these tools. Parents tend to trust those who are speaking from personal experience, so your ability to teach and work with parents using Hand in Hand will depend on the direct experience you can gather, as well as your ability to listen well to parents, and to use a listener yourself. This class will also establish a model for skillfully and sensitively supporting parents in either group settings or one-on-one.

Will there be opportunities for individual and group consultations after the Foundations Course for Professionals as I incorporate these tools into my practice?

Individual consultations are always available, and we would pair you with a consultant who is also a professional in the field. With sufficient interest, group consultations may be possible as well.

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