Marte Meo - a tool for best parenting
What is Marte Meo? (from Latin : ‘on one’s own strength’)
Marte Meo was devised in Holland by specialist educator Maria Aarts more than twenty years ago. As a form of therapy for babies, children and adolescents it has become the primary form of intervention in northern Europe, but is relatively new to Australia.
Marte Meo is a strengths-based program – it looks at what a child can do, and where they might need extra support in their personal development. Its goal is to give parents, teachers and professionals a different perspective to help understand the meaning behind children’s behaviours.
Typical behaviours that usually carry a developmental message are things such as non-compliance, fussy eating, poor sleeping, and aggression. If parents and carers can understand what the behaviours are telling them, then they can work out what their child needs to learn for their personal development, and what can be done to encourage and support that need.
How does Marte Meo work?
Marte Meo relies on understanding through “seeing”.
Video footage is taken of the child and parent(s) interacting together.
In between sessions, the MM therapist looks at the video, understands what the child needs, and develops a work point list. At the next session the MM therapist invites parents to look at the images selected, so that parents can first ‘see’ how a behaviour indicates a need, and then recognise those moments when they can guide their child.
After the first session, each session follows a set pattern – parents review the footage from the previous session with the therapist. The therapist then takes further footage with the parents invited to practice the particular work point skill in a step-by-step method. After each session, practice takes place in everyday situations.
The Marte Meo therapist acts as a guide to assist parents to see the everyday moments they can help their child, and as the program is based on ‘one’s own strength’, the therapist guides until the parents have found their own strength, confidence or rhythm with their child.
How many sessions?
This will depend on the nature of the “problem”, and the work point list, however, because the use of visual imagery is so powerful, parents report good outcomes even after the first few sessions. Learning the special skills and practising them occurs at the individual’s pace, and parents can see their own progress through the video imagery.
Interestingly, parents often find that once they have mastered the first of the work point skills, the other skills occur intuitively and naturally. Parents gain the special parenting skills needed for their child, and are always welcome to revisit for a “top up”.
Because this technique of visual imagery is so powerful, Marte Meo achieves very good success rates. Because the key therapy tool is recording behaviour by filming, Marte Meo is ideally suited to help parents at distance by utilising streaming technology.
One of the most beneficial outcomes of Marte Meo is that it strengthens children’s relationships with their parents, and we know that a good relationship with parents is a protective factor for children – and adolescents.
Special offer for SA readers in November 2010: Attuned Psychology in North Adelaide is one of the few private practices to offer this form of therapy. To mark Psychology month, Attuned Psychology are offering free sessions to parents, teachers or child care centres to find out more about the Marte Meo method of therapy.
Call 08 8361 7008, or visit www.attunedpsychology.com.
For more on Marte Meo click here.