This past January, I was presented the opportunity to teach a series of courses and workshops in Israel. It initially began when two therapists called me and asked if I was going to Israel any time soon and if I was interested in teaching a course. I thought it was a wonderful opportunity. My mission is to utilize my passion for problem solving children and teens’ challenging behaviors to benefit society while serving as an example of success that will shape the future of our society. Israel is a place most meaningful to me, and to combine my trip there with my mission was very special to me. And so began this wonderful whirlwind of experiences.
One of the therapists who had called me, Rifki Bennatan, became the main person who helped organize this trip. We started the planning process during the 6 weeks prior to the actual trip, so I had to be very flexible with my working schedule. Preparation on my part was to outline the courses I would be teaching, create and edit PowerPoints and lectures, and research the neurobiology to support my findings. I became very busy during the weeks before the trip, so on the week before I was set to travel, I made sure to relax and clear my mind of any anxiety and stress.
When I arrived, I spent countless intense hours in preparation for those courses which varied from 2 to 6 hours depending on the topics. The topics included attachment theory; an in-depth view of the nervous system; behavioral issues; and reflex integration of the Moro reflex, fear paralysis reflex, Babkin reflex, and the spinal perez reflex. I was even prepared to talk about topics on behavioral issues in children such as aggression, violence, and acting out/shutting down while also addressing issues like the parents’ mental health, which I found to be especially important since many parents have large families to take care of.
I presented the topics and taught both therapists and parents. I also treated some private clients. Unfortunately, I was not able to meet with all of them, but it was a pleasure to know and work with the families I met.
I was surprised by how many people attended. I noticed an incremental growth in the number of attendants at the lectures, which may have been due to a positive word-of-mouth from earlier attendants. It was humbling considering the positive thirst and openness to receiving the information and techniques I presented.
During this entire experience, I was amazed by how receptive both the professionals and parents were to the information I provided. Not one person asked the most common question I usually get: “These are nice ideas, but what happens when the child acts out?” All the therapists I met seem to understand that life is a process and that children are born as complex, dependent creatures with an ever-changing cycle of needs. No parent – no matter how devoted – would be able to respond perfectly to all the changing needs of a child. Before addressing negativity and the underlying cause of a child’s behavior, it is important for parents and professionals alike to know that (1) the child needs to be understood, (2) a healthy relationship needs to be developed, and (3) positivity needs to be put in place. These 3 key elements are important for me to address during workshops.
When it came time for me to leave, I was leaving them with a partial toolbox of knowledge. I look forward to returning to continue sharing tools that are supportive and helpful and to follow-up with the connections and families I met.