Kat Lee, RDI Program Certified Consultant

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Dr. Gutstein on "Overwhelm"

Added on by Kat Lee.

This is the transcript from Dr. Gutstein's video clip, "Moving Out of Crisis"


Before we even talk about guiding, because guiding is the last step, really, not the first.

The first thing is we have to help you, as a parent, move out of a state of crisis.

By definition and I actually wrote seminal work in crisis theory back in the mid/late-80s 

So I know a little about crisis; and I spent my early life in it .. 

I don't have much crisis in my life now .. 

I'm not a crisis junkie, but I didn't have much control over it, 

But I did study it a lot …

and the key is here...


What I mean by 

a state of crisis, 

is a pace where you're very narrow-focused,

you're desperate,

you're trying everything.

you can't reflect.

you're not able to evaluate and think things through

you're trying to find a solution everywhere

you're pushing every button.

you're tired,

you're physically exhausting yourself.


And it's a desperate, frantic, helpless, state

you're trying to put out fires.

The idea of thinking over the longer run, 

of the longer term doesn't seem possible to you.

It's very hard to think, and get perspective.


All of the consultants have told me, that their perception is, that 

about 95% of every family that walks in, the parents are still in a state of crisis, 

even if it's been several years since the diagnosis. 

They're still in that state of crisis.

They're still confused, 

they're still acting desperate.

they're still searching for some immediate fix, 

some rapid solution.


some people are more embedded in that than others.

some people are more ready to move out and can't wait to be told it's OK. 


Now unfortunately, that state of crisis gets reinforced 

by well-meaning professionals 

who are ill-informed. 

So we're still hearing many professionals tell parents of a newly diagnosed child 

that there's this small window of opportunity for development

and if they don't do x y and z right now, at this level of intensity, 

the brain, the child is going to miss out on it. 


in fact it has the opposite consequence


the more desperate you are, 

the more frantic you are, 

the more that atmosphere is going to be communicated to the child 

and the child is going to experience it and 

it creates a disadvantage for them to be able to grow and develop.

It's actually going to make things worse.


Of course, people say that to parents with the best of intentions, 

but it has the worst effect, this sense of rushing. 


Children who have neurological vulnerabilities 

and this would be true of any child with a neurological vulnerable condition, 

respond very poorly, are very poor learners in frantic, intensive environments 

where they're getting lots of therapies and lots of things.

That is the worst condition, the worst environment to put them in. 


They need time to process. 

They need time to consider. 

They need to be carefully monitored so that they're not overloaded, 

so they're not passing a threshold. 

They need all that consideration, 

all that respect, 

all that awareness of who they are, 

not because of the diagnosis.


But yet, almost always what we see is when we see parents

is just the opposite. 

Somehow parents have felt frantic, 

they felt they need to do everything.

They feel like their time is running out.

They're overloaded

The parents are overloaded

The child is feeling overloaded. 

The whole system is overloaded and in crisis.

And often that will go on for years, 

until there's a burnout.


And so what happens is, you get to a state–

that one of my old professors, Roy Baumeister, 

talks about and that he's published papers on–

called "ego depletion."

Everyone feels so pressured, 

they're just depleted.

Your personal resources don't feel like they're there.

So then we hear people say,


"I don't have time to do this RDI stuff, this guiding,"

OR: "I can't video tape this."

"It's too hard."

You know why?

Because you're already in such a state of depletion, 

that there really are no resources you've left for growth and development.


So even things that we would think of as simple or easy, 

seem overwhelming, 

because you're right at the edge right now, 

of what you can handle because of the way your daily life is occurring. 


So that's why the first step in our program has to be 

to help you move out of this crisis state. 

There's nothing else we can do to help you, if we can't do that.

So before we can talk about engagement-based guiding…


to be a guide you have to have a state of mind 

that allows you to have perspective, 

to reflect, 

to learn from your experience, 

to be planful, 

to prepare your mind, 

to think on several levels.


They're all things within all of your capacity, 

because we know how to teach them to you as parents. 

but, not when you're in a state of crisis.

So at lot of times we'll hear parents say

"I can't do this,

it's too hard, 

too much,"

And it's not necessarily because it really is too hard for you, 

it's just you're so depleted right now, 

that even these steps, that we can do in a very small step-by-step basis, 

seem overwhelming to you … you're so depleted.


And that's why #1 is so critical. 

The Parent/Consultant Relationship: Building Trust

Added on by Kat Lee.

As both a parent of a child effected by ASD and a consultant myself, this topic is one I’ve thought about for almost 20 years. For the sake of this blog conversation, I’ve had many consultants since my son’s diagnosis 19 years ago. Now after 10 years as a consultant myself, I can say I am now in the reverse role with many families. When I became a consultant, I decided I wanted to learn from all the wonderful professionals who have come into my life either as my own consultant or through other channels. 

Trust is the key ingredient to the parent / consultant relationship. One can have all the other ingredients: an eager to learn parent, an experienced consultant, a willingness to learn and a willingness to teach, a undying love for our child and a commitment to the remediation of our client but trust must be the underlying foundation and that trust runs both ways, being the responsibility of both the consultant and the families they see.

The work begins before we ever meet. I once had a friend who was runner up Miss Texas. She would always say “Katherine, you only have one time to make a good first impression”. How true in all of life!

How do we build trust from the onset?

For the consultant:

  • providing current contact information that is checked regularly
  • responding promptly to inquiries for services, even if our caseload is full
  • explaining thoroughly the services provided
  • willingly and enthusiastically answering questions about what we provide
  • listening closely to parents and asking follow up questions
  • arriving promptly to all appointments and respecting the families' time
  • a commitment to confidentiality and privacy for our families before they are officially working with us (and of course, while they are)

From the parents, a reflection of what builds trust with the consultant:

  • responding promptly to follow up questions from the professional
  • explaining our needs for services, as painful as that can be
  • willingly and enthusiastically answering questions about our sweet children
  • listening closely to the consultant and asking follow up questions
  • arriving promptly for appointments and respecting the consultants schedule
  • commitment to respecting the privacy of the consultant right from the beginning

Of course, life happens! An email goes to spam, an appointment gets scheduled into the wrong week, new construction pops up and we are late to a meeting. However, laying this foundation  of reliable trust in the first months of the relationship is key.

Another key is a parent being able to have faith that he or she will not be judged by the consultant… evaluation without judgment. I’ll discuss that in a future blog.