Collaborative Practices in Early Childhood Intervention: the case for explicitly striving for maximal participation of families




Early Childhood Intervention aims to empower parents and children to become confident and competent in independently finding solutions to everyday life challenges. Therapists have only the best intentions in their practice; however, in their eagerness to help, they may be unknowingly disempowering parents when taking ownership of the intervention. The purpose of this opinion paper is to encourage and inspire therapists to pause, reflect, and reconsider the significance of parent-therapist partnerships and the use of a coach approach for implementing Family-Centred Best Practice. Based on clinical and research experiences in Early Childhood Intervention, the authors believe that therapists need to further develop communication and interpersonal skills so that they can empower parents in the same way they empower children. When therapists are trained to implement collaborative practices, they may feel less pressure to have all the answers and be primarily responsible for supporting children's development and functioning. Collaborative practices such as coaching can help therapists establish a respectful, equitable, and complementary partnership with parents, transforming “power over” relationships into “power with” relationships. This change can be more rewarding and satisfying for everyone involved. Providing best practice interventions often requires therapists to constantly focus on their therapeutic expertise. Yet, the effectiveness of interventions for children and their families can also be significantly improved if therapists refine how they deliver their services. Parents play a key role in the successful intervention of their children; therefore, to achieve sustainable long-term therapy goals, it is necessary to understand how to communicate with, relate to, and coach parents effectively.

Author Biography

Carla Ribeiro Lage, University of South Australia

Carla is an occupational therapist and parent educator with experience in home, clinic, hospital, and community-based early intervention settings. She is also well experienced in research, teaching, and academic supervision. Currently, Carla is engaged in both academic and clinical teaching roles in the occupational therapy program at UniSA, in addition to providing professional development training for early intervention professionals in Australia and Brazil. Carla holds a research scholarship from UniSA and is on the verge of completing her master's degree in Health Sciences on professional-family collaborative practices in occupational therapy. Scholarly and professionally, she is particularly interested in early intervention and family-centred care. Besides work, Carla enjoys spending time in nature, laughing with friends, and experiencing diverse cultures.

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