NORWAY — With the ever growing pressures that COVID-19 places on families struggling with balancing work and school with health and emotional well-being, Maine Behavioral Healthcare has developed new resources that focus on prevention and treatment of behavioral and emotional disorders in children and teens.

Licensed clinical social workers based at the organization’s Norway location, Alyssa Morrison and Nina Williams, have achieved Positive Parent Program accreditation, a program that promotes positive parenting practices in the community and aims to prevent a range of social and behavioral problems in children.

“We at Maine Behavioral Healthcare are deeply grateful to Alyssa and Nina for undertaking this training,” Norway’s Practice Director Kristie Worster wrote in a statement. “It expands the level of support we can provide Maine families who may be struggling to manage behaviors at home.”

Alyssa Morrison is one of two licensed clinical social workers with Maine Behavioral Healthcare in Norway. Submitted photo

The Positive Parent Program is commonly referred to as “Triple P.” It is grounded in an international evidence-based treatment and in use in Australia and Europe, according to Morrison.

It involves helping parents first assess their children’s behaviors and then develop strategies to address their behavioral needs.

“We focus on working with parents,” Morrison said. “The goal is to help them become more confident and skilled in managing their kids’ behaviors in the home, in public, wherever they need it.

“Typically we see clients for any number of issues, with the focus being to help the client work through their anxiety or depression using cognitive behavior therapies. What is different about Triple P is that it is for families that are struggling with behaviors and the work is done with the parent and their management of it.”

In Maine, especially in rural areas, behavioral health practitioners are being encouraged to participate in the accreditation training. The ultimate goal is to help reduce instances where child protective services intervene in family situations.

Morrison and Williams completed Triple P accreditation in November. They are working with primary care providers in western Maine to identify and refer families who will benefit from the parenting support program.

“We encourage parents to set goals on a specific behavior in their kids they wish to target,” Morrison said. “They will track that behavior to get a sense of when it occurs and what happens before and after. Then in other sessions we work with the parent on ways to prompt the child to move onto getting ready for dinner or bed, at times of transition when that behavior might be more problematic. How to stop negative behavior and use (methods like) timeouts properly.”

Since the pandemic, Morrison has seen children struggle even more as the structure they received during the school day has been lost; parents are forced to juggle jobs with the children being home instead of in the classroom.

She said emotional regulation is imperative for learning and success has taken a hit the last couple years. Triple P provides parents with broader tools to help their children manage stressors and communicate emotions like anger before they act out.

“Especially now, because of the pandemic, children may be experiencing difficulties that magnify the effects of behavioral and emotional disorders,” Worster said in her statement. “With their Triple P-accreditation Alyssa and Nina are uniquely positioned to serve (western Maine) children and families facing these challenges.”


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