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Mapping Parallel Processes for Restoration to Health

September 14, 2010

Three of us spent a couple of hours yesterday talking about how to map the movement of our clients and patients through their healing process, and the interaction they will have with people and organizations moving through their own processes. It was an incredible exercise and gave us more insight into management of a business (which we will write about separately), and its potential for helping clients manage their own lives with outside help and assistance.

First let me say that I have a superficial understanding of the Behavioral Parallel Process Model, and this is not what we were discussing. In Lean Management, we manage value streams (or processes) by mapping them, and applying the improvement tools to eliminate waste and increase value. In human lives, we are talking about how their life moves along a time continuum and the various interactions they have. Parallel Processes are lives moving on their own time continuum and the interactions they have with other lives.

The Parallel Processes we talk about can be illustrated by using 2 parents and a child. If Mom has multiple unresolved Adverse Childhood Experiences and exhibits adaptive behaviors such as smoking, alcohol abuse and exhibits depressive behaviors, we know that there are consequences for both Dad and Child. For Dad, there is the likelihood of marital stress, income pressures and the potential for emotional or physical abuse. For Child, there are at least 2 ACEs being experienced, and the potential for additional ones to occur. Mom, Dad and Child move through their life (a process) with frequent interactions among themselves. For simplicity, I am not adding other processes that might intervene such as the Court System, Social Services or the Office of Children’s Services.

Seeing the need for help, Mom may decide she needs professional counseling or therapy. She makes her appointment and begins to explore the reasons for her adaptive behaviors. As she begins to explore her issues, and discovers unresolved childhood trauma, she begins to understand there is a path to healing, and makes progress. As she begins to recognize the onset of depressive behaviors, she implements coping skills. As she learns to avoid or minimize depression, her use of alcohol slows. Perhaps she is able to attempt quitting smoking. Her active participation in her own process leads to healing some of her personal issues. She takes an anger management course and starts to realize what impact her adaptive behaviors have had on Dad and Child.

At the same time, Dad is watching Mom work through her healing. He wants to be supportive, but has to deal with some of his own anger at being in an abusive relationship, and the  hurt that has come from frequent marital arguments—the blaming and shaming that occur in many relationships. He learns about Healthy Relationships counseling, and starts participating. Pretty soon Mom joins him and they learn together how to nurture a relationship.

Child in the meantime has their life to continue living. Upset by the tension in the home, Child is acting up in school and the community. During Mom’s depressive episodes, child is often left unsupervised while Dad is at work or travelling, which is frequent. As Mom and Dad heal, they begin to understand the impact on Child and bring child in for intervention counseling. At the same time, they realize that they need to improve their parenting skills, so the eventually attend a Positive Indian Parenting class. Child benefits from all of the new skills gained from counseling, and the decrease in the number of depressive episodes Mom experiences, the elimination of abuse, and starts to heal.

Each party is an individual, and needs to be cared for as an individual as they move down their process. However, they are intertwined and interact regularly, so they impact each others lives considerable. As they move down their parallel pathways, the tools and skills they learn need to be sequenced in a way that provides the greatest possible benefit to each of them.

We feel the potential for mapping Parallel Processes is considerable, and will write more in subsequent blogs.

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