Shifting into a good place – one-page profiles in divorce

An example of how this woman used a one-page profile to address what was working and not working in her life and make positive statements to achieve better support and long term change.

Mary's one-page profile

Mary’s one-page profile

Written by Sue Atkins, Parenting Expert

Mary is an Estate Agent who lives in North London. Her family live 50 miles from her so she felt a little isolated from practical support. Mary was going through a divorce and came to me because she was feeling overwhelmed and confused. Her work was suffering as she couldn’t concentrate which bothered her greatly. She also felt that she was impatient, tearful and short tempered with her children and wasn’t being consistent in her discipline.

I went through the one-page profile process as an overview – explaining what a one-page profile was, how it could work for her as well as for her children and that we would be looking at what was working and not working from her view point first – as if she shifted into a good place everything would change and get better

The one-page profile was primarily used to build back Mary’s self esteem as it had taken a battering since splitting up with her husband and her confidence was low. This meant she was finding it difficult to make decisions about finances, selling the  house, dividing furniture, sharing out photos and sorting out the children. On top of these practicalities she was of course experiencing all the emotional guilt, despair and grief that comes from the break-up of a marriage.

Mary’s one-page profile made an enormous difference, quickly, easily and simply. Mary soon felt back in control of small areas of her life which then built her confidence to tackle the larger things. Her relationship with her children improved, she felt more in control of their discipline and boundaries and she began to create her own NEW traditions and ways of doing things which felt empowering

After just the initial first one-hour session Mary told me she felt soooo much better and it took just three weeks of these sessions to really see her long term confidence return.  We still top her up once a month now to keep her sense of moving forward and address what is working and not working which is an ongoing process. The great thing about one-page profiles is that you can add to them and adapt them as what is important to you and what support you need changes. They evolve with you and so continue to work to empower and support you as you move into new areas of your life.

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Helping children feel heard in divorce

An example of how one-page profiles can be used with parents and children to overcome family issues that have resulted from the separation of mum and dad.

Sophie's one-page profile

Sophie’s one-page profile

Written by Sue Atkins, Parenting Expert

Sophie’s ex Gary had a new girlfriend and the kids didn’t like her. They didn’t want her staying over when they were with their dad and this was making Gary unhappy. This was a difficult time for Sophie. She felt trapped, coping with her own emotional issues about this as well as trying to support her children.  She needed clarity, direction and confidence in handling this particular issue.

Sophie came to see me in my office and we worked on building her one-page profile. Our first aim was to give her back her confidence and self esteem – we then looked at ways to support her first and once that was agreed we looked at ways of approaching the sleepover issues and the kids not liking their Dad’s new girlfriend.

It was important that when the girls joined us on the next session that they were relaxed and comfortable so we did this around my kitchen table keeping it informal and friendly.

We created one-page profiles with the girls with arts and crafts. The profiles we bright, colourful and 3D which is what they wanted and as we had music as we spoke so the whole experience felt fun and uplifting.

Then we looked at what the kids wanted to see happen. Both the girls came up with really wonderful ideas by themselves. This is why the one-page profile is so good to use with children; it helps them to feel heard, understood and part of the process.

We agreed that they would put their ideas into practice over the coming week and report back on how it went. This gave us the opportunity to discuss new issues, tweak our approach and talk about new approaches.  We did this over the period of a month.  At times it was challenging to get it all to work – but we got there in the end and everyone felt more relaxed.

I believe that one-page profiles yield massive results over time. In this particular case, the family kept tweaking and adjusting the ideas, the ways they behaved, the way Mum spoke about Dad and the new girlfriend. Despite Dad not being fully on board with the process, the kids and Mum carved out their own solutions to that particular issue. Now we are working on a few of the others using the same one-page profile process.

Finding the right nursery

An example of how this new mum used a one-page profile to find the right nursery for her daughter.

Scarlett's 8 month one-page profile

Scarlett’s 8 month one-page profile

Written by Rowan Hall, Mum to Scarlett

For the first two months of my daughter’s life I didn’t put her down. She looked too small and fragile to be out of my arms and I had an overpowering urge to keep her close to me so that she could hear my heartbeat, smell my skin next to hers, find her milk, know that she wasn’t alone in this strange new world. I was encouraged by friends to move from the living room into the bedroom to get some rest after a fortnight but I can’t even remember feeling tired. All I wanted to do was to look after her. It was early August and the Olympics were on the TV 24 hours a day. Together Scarlett and I watched as Jessica Ennis from our hometown of Sheffield won the gold medal in the heptathlon, Mo Farah became the first Briton to win Olympic 10000m gold and Gemma Gibbons looked to the sky and called her Mum’s name as she took home silver in the Judo. I’ll never forget those moments – I’m teary now as I write. There I was watching people fulfil their lifelong ambitions, realising their dreams, whilst I held my greatest achievement so far in my arms.

When Scarlett was eight months old it was time for me to go back to work. I’d been worrying about this and wasn’t feeling comfortable about the amount of time I would be away from her each day. There was also quite a lot of uncertainty about whether I could do the part-time hours I wanted in my old job and I decided that the best option for my family was to go freelance and be based at home. I started writing about person-centred practices, something I feel passionate about after experiencing the results myself in pregnancy and birth. As well as doing something I loved, my new role meant that I could manage my own time and not leave Scarlett for long periods.

I still had the task of finding the right nursery though; somewhere that I knew Scarlett would feel safe and happy without me. As is typical for me, I did a lot of research and made a lot of visits. But part way through the process I realised that I was struggling to compare the different options. They were all so similar in many ways and there were positives and negatives to each. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t comparing the nurseries against my own criteria but against theirs. I’d come away from each visit with a pile of information; Ofsted reports, health and safety certificates, routines. The Nursery Managers were sharing with me what they thought I needed to know in order to make a decision but the emphasis was all wrong. I needed to think about what was important to and for Scarlett and then make my decision based on her as an individual.

I wrote a list. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was actually the start of Scarlett’s one-page profile. I was thinking about what she needed to be supported well and wanted to use this list to work through our options. I came up with the following criteria: Kindness and attitude of staff, quality of the food, time spent outdoors, approach to play, safety and proximity to home (and me of course!).

Scarlett’s nursery is across the road. They have a cook serving fresh, unprocessed food daily. They have three separate outdoor areas and Scarlett’s key worker is loving and kind to her. I wrote up the rest of her one-page profile and took this across on her first day. I feel confident that they understand what she needs and can support her well, not just because they have a copy of her profile but because when looking at nurseries, I thought long and hard about what was important to and for her as an individual and then found the best match.

Scarlett is a happy, healthy little girl and changes every day. The difference now to when I first wrote her profile is remarkable – and keeping it up-to-date is going to be  wonderful way of capturing those precious moments in time and looking back on how she has developed.

You can read more about using person-centred thinking tools in pregnancy birth and parenthood here.

Birth plan using a one-page profile – “push it good”

An example of how using a one-page profile format to produce a birthing plan gave these first time parents the confidence and control they needed in labour. Robin and Adam’s story also describes the benefits of presenting important information in this way to medical staff; helping them tune in to the couple and support them in the birth of their daughter.

Written by Robin and Adam

robin and adam's birth planWe are first time parents who used a one-page profile format to write our birth plan. We had noticed that most birth plans being given out during our hospital tour were only casually glanced at by the nursing staff and we wanted to make sure that the people present at our birth would pay greater attention to ours. We had very particular requests and it was important that we delivered the information in a way that was quick and easy to read.

To write our birth plan profile, we invited our friends and family for tea and we casually shared what we thought we wanted.  They offered suggestions and ideas and it worked well because it was casual and at home.

We shared our birth plan one-page profile with our family doctor and OBGYN (both of whom loved it!). We kept a copy in our medical file and also had a copy placed on the door of our birthing suite.

During some of the more tense and scary moments of my daughter’s birth, we were able to keep all support staff on the same page thanks to our plan. This was helpful to them since they were not fumbling with a five page document which is what they often had to work with.

More importantly, it helped us as first time parents to have a team that knew how to support us best.  Naturally, we were terrified of the labour process at the time, and this enabled us to have a sense of control in what is sometimes a chaotic process.

Having our birth plan in a one-page profile format also really helped the nursing staff understand what was important to us (get her out as safely as possible!) and what support we needed as first timers (I don’t handle blood well!). Many nurses and students came up to us afterwards wanting to know more about it, and how they could encourage other parents to write birth plans in this way.

We really feel that producing our birth plan in this way was paramount in making our labour experience such a positive one. We had one nurse come in with an iPod and sing “push it good” by salt-n-peppa on a whim and we actually laughed during labour. How many people can say that?  We later learned that the nursing staff felt comfortable going the extra mile as they felt that they knew us as a couple thanks to our plan and it really helped them know how to make our experience a positive one.

If you would like to read more about people’s experiences using person-centred thinking tools in pregnancy and labour you can follow our pregnancy, parenting and personalisation blog here.