6 days ago

Welcome to the SPACE forum for parents


It’s good to have you here! Feel free to share anything - stories, ideas, questions or whatever is on your mind. Here you can start discussions, connect with members, reply to comments, and more. I created the parent forum to provide a place where parents can connect with each other and discuss anything relevant to being the parent of someone with anxiety, OCD, or other related disorders.

Being the parent of a child or adolescent with elevated anxiety means coping with constant challenges and dilemmas. SPACE is one approach to navigating those challenges and helping children to overcome their anxiety. In SPACE, parents replace accommodation of a child's symptoms with supportive responses, ones that show the child both acceptance and validation of their genuine difficulty, as well as confidence in the child's ability to cope with tolerate the distress.

I hope this forum is useful and helpful to parents who want to connect with others who share their interests and stories. And I hope that everyone will maintain a supportive attitude - not only toward their child, but to others on the forum as well. Remember that everybody has a lot in common, and everyone is also different.

Again, welcome to the forum!

6 days ago

Thank you for creating this forum for parents!

4 days ago

This is Awesome! Thanks Dr Lebowitz!

New Posts
  • Because I don't have anyone in my area who has been trained in the SPACE approach, I wanted to inquire about possibly sponsoring attendance at the workshop in San Francisco for our wonderful local therapist. I am trying to avoid it being awkward or unprofessional to offer it. I was thinking that some other parents around the world might want to raise funds like this as well. We all spend so much money on private therapy (including those appointments that our treatment-resistant kids refuse to attend) and I think so many kids in our communities would benefit from more therapists and counselors and health practitioners being trained. I'm also very interested in online or teletherapy in the SPACE approach and would love to hear if any of you know anyone who is doing that. Also, I’m hosting a screening of Unstuck (the kids OCD movie) next month in Portland, OR, and I'd like to be able to share some materials with the parents and professionals who attend - a pamphlet perhaps, flyer about the upcoming trainings...can anyone direct me to something like that?
  • I really appreciate being able to join this forum for parents, and I will delete my post in the professionals section. When I first heard about SPACE, I thought it sounded like good parenting for kids with mild/moderate general anxiety, but perhaps too simplistic for children/teens with severe OCD where parents are often caught up in accommodating SO many rituals. It's taken me a long time to come back around to it, and I basically only did because we are in crisis (severe quality of life impairment for my teenager) and I've tried everything else. I'm a long-time early childhood educator and have also facilitated "connected parenting" classes in my community for over a dozen years - we've also raised our four kids (now all teens and young adults) with positive respectful parenting and education (ala folks like Alfie Kohn, Ross Greene and Peter Gray), and I've noticed that for myself and other parents who are philosophically non-punitive, it is rather difficult to buy-in to the often punitive and arbitrary limit-setting that is ERP/CBT, so instead, unfortunately, we accommodate. And, we accommodate for all the other reasons that parents do. I really appreciated reading Dr. Lebowitz's books and knowing that I'm not alone with that strong instinct to do whatever is needed to protect one's child from harm and ease their suffering. I would've appreciated the perspective on collaborative parenting as well, and compassion for the other role (demanding parent) - I'm recently divorced after 24 years of struggling through parenting kids with anxiety/OCD, the blame and accusations pretty much broke us in the end. I'm now connected with thousands of parents of kids with OCD and anxiety (facebook groups, etc.), and I noticed there are SO many parents out here longing for a non-accommodation plan that includes empathy, collaborative problem-solving, and respect. I'm so grateful to have found SPACE and I sure wish I lived near the Child Study Center at Yale or anywhere that offers a weekly appt. for parents. My adolescent and I went to Mayo Clinic's 5-day intensive program for OCD earlier this year, and I was very surprised at the outdated information on discipline that was given to parents in their booklet. Many parents on our groups have reported that the expressions of judgement from therapists, teachers, family members, etc. and the resultant shame, have really stalled their ability to coach their kid, limit accommodations, etc. I think the SPACE approach will really empower these parents to better help their children, with it's built-in empathy and presumption of positive intent on all sides. The other thing that comes up a lot in my online parenting support groups is post-traumatic OCD/anxiety disorders. And the idea that traditional ERP therapy can actually create more trauma for these kids, especially when it is implemented too quickly or with punishments. We've done some (very informal) polls this year on the larger support groups and found that for kids who were already "spirited/anxious" types, a trauma or significant loss often seemed to bring out OCD symptoms. Sometimes, the parent experienced the trauma and grief as well, which made them less equipped to do ERP, and/or made them more sympathetic, which often turned into more accommodations. I know the traumatic events in my own family (I am a lung cancer patient, had major thoracic surgery, several frightening ICU admissions, ambulance calls, etc.) have deeply effected my kids, especially the ones who were already more clingy/needy, and the idea that my time (alive, with them) is limited has also impacted my own willingness and ability to limit OCD accommodations effectively. I know these kids (mine, and others who have PTSD) need gentle loving care, empathy, etc. along with ERP interventions, but I have felt at a loss about what else to do. Neurofeedback, supplements, exercise, EMDR? It's clear now that my own trauma has unintentionally made things much worse for my hurting adolescent kid, by way of over-accommodation, and I'm ready to work hard on changing that, while still prioritizing our important parent-child connection and strong respectful relationships. Thank you if you've read this far. I'm hoping to get involved with SPACE treatment sessions as soon as possible, whether online or in person. I'm so glad to have this space to connect with you all and share stories and ideas and resources, and I'm eager for the release of the SPACE manual for parents!