Monday, November 27, 2006

Restorative Relationships for Foster Care Alumni

As adults, it is possible to restructure negative relational patterns laid down in childhood.

The adult brain is able to adapt and improve its functioning under the right conditions. It has plasticity, which means that existing neurons are capable of taking on new jobs in order to help individuals adapt to changing circumstances.

Although early structural and chemical patterns might predispose a person towards anger anxiety or depression, the human brain is capable of adapting psychologically to new situations.

Restorative relationships
Relationships can be destructive -- but they can also be restorative. Problems that were created through damaging relationships can be resolved through healing relationships.

At one time, certain responses helped you to survive. Now, those same unconscious reactions undermine your ability to maintain intimate relationships.

You basically have to create a new pathway in your brain. New behaviors will lead to new brainwave patterns -- but these connections will only become stronger if they are frequently used.

Reroute old reactions into a new response:
-If your habitual response is emotional secrecy, you might have to "build the habit" of putting emotions into words.

-If your habitual response is anxiety, you'll need to identify what triggers anxiety, and try to put into words what triggers that anxiety: What are you thinking about that triggers those emotions?

Hendrix, Harville and Helen LaKelly Hunt. Receiving love: Transform your relationship by letting yourself be loved. Atria Books, 2004.