I’ve been rather neutral on Pete Earley’s blogs for several years. I stopped short of being a fan, mainly because I was not particularly interested in his focus on righting the many wrongs of the US mental health system, such as greater availability of hospital beds. I don’t live in the USA for one, but I also feel that focusing on e.g. more hospital beds and less police brutality misses the goal of recovery. If you have to resort to the hospital or the police, you’ve already lost. Something has gone horribly wrong. It hasn’t been the system (for all of its many faults), it’s been in how we as parents and family members have come to rely on crude outside solutions to our own failures in communication, understanding, and empathy.
I’m not saying that one should never seek outside intervention, but what I am saying and have been saying for a long time, is what Earley has also learned and is beginning to talk more openly about. So, good for him! Let’s hope more parents hear this message.
For me, shifting the role of parent to becoming my son’s partner was crucial
I learned about active listening. I learned to show my son empathy and respect. By listening and showing empathy and respect, I hoped to develop trust and rapport. And with trust and rapport, I hoped to gain influence.
This didn’t mean that I opposed involuntary commitment. But it became my last choice in emergencies, not my first. Active listening, empathy, respect, trust, and rapport — if I had tried to use those skills initially and at different intersections during Kevin’s breakdowns, I believe we could have avoided much of the trauma that both of us experienced. I believe we could have become partners in his recovery, rather than adversaries. I believe, I could have engaged him earlier in his treatment.
Read more of his blog post here