About Megan Clinton
“I’m passionate about supporting parents so that they can develop a more connected, joyful relationship with their children”
My therapy journey began over a decade ago. I was working as an Environmental Campaigner in Australia after completing my BSc. and BSoc.Sci. (Hons) at the University of Cape Town. After many years of campaigning to protect the forests, it seemed to me that people’s growing disconnection with the environment and the resulting damage was related in some way to the disconnection within themselves.
As a result my journey, which was initially personal in nature, became my passion and life’s calling.
I was drawn to Gestalt Therapy because of its holistic approach to healing and in particular Relational Gestalt Psychotherapy, with its emphasis on healing within the therapeutic relationship. Gestalt Therapy allows a person to be unconditionally seen and heard in a way that is deeply connected and supported in the here and now.
After four years of studying at Gestalt Therapy Australia, I received my Advanced Diploma. I did my two-year internship at the Mental Illness Fellowship in Melbourne where I continued to work once my Diploma was completed. While working for the organisation, I saw both those suffering from mental illness as well as those caring for them.
John Bowlby and others’ work discussed the impact that a disruption between the primary caregiver and child could have, leading to psychopathology later in life. During my time at MIFF, I could see the connection between how adults are in the world and how they were held, seen, and loved as children. Classical attachment theory talks about the child’s physical needs for food, connection and contact to be met in order for secure attachment to occur.
When I became pregnant, I returned home to Johannesburg, South Africa. I was given lots of different books with different parenting theories – mostly ones from a more behaviourist paradigm which believes that babies need to be taught how to be good. I think initially I was so focused on my baby’s birth I hadn’t thought much about how I wanted to parent.
I knew I wanted a natural birth and was drawn to hypnobirthing to support me. I found a lovely natural birthing clinic and took my time choosing a midwife who would support my birth plan. What really struck me during my labour was that my body knew exactly what to do. I was told to do certain things and listen to the expert, however, in hindsight, I would have loved to have trusted my body more. During the last few hours, I felt deeply connected to myself and my baby despite at times finding the intensity of contractions difficult.
When my daughter was placed in my arms, I also knew how I wanted to be with her. My midwife gave me a book on Attachment Style Parenting by Dr. Sears. When I read it, I realised that it was exactly what I was doing. For me, it was easy to be attuned to her needs. I carried my daughter in a sling, breastfed her and we co-slept.
My daughter never really cried as a baby and when she did, I would breastfeed her. When she was just over a year old, I was given a book on Aware Parenting written by Dr. Aletha Solter. It felt like this was the extra piece that had previously been missing. Dr. Solter is a Swiss/American developmental psychologist, who is recognised internationally as an expert on attachment, trauma, and non-punitive discipline. She studied with the Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget, at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Dr. Solter talks about the importance of emotional release as another need beyond just the physical needs talked about in Classical Attachment parenting. This resonated for me – as a therapist working with adults who have emotional needs as well as physical, and who find crying and expressing emotions an important way of healing from past hurts
I realised after reading her book that listening and holding a child’s emotions so they could be released was the missing piece from attachment parenting. I also realised that my daughter had developed a control pattern around breastfeeding. Despite reading Dr. Solter’s books I still struggled to differentiate between when my daughter was hungry and when she had a need to cry. I now so celebrate parents that are able to do this and feel so much compassion for those that struggle like I did.
When my daughter was a toddler, I found it easier to listen to more and more of her feelings, and my daughter was calm and gentle. Later on, we went through a significant amount of stress and had to move several times and I noticed her calmness shifted and she had more feelings and was sometimes angry.
When I went to look after my very sick father it became hard to hear all her feelings while caring for him. Once we moved back home it took lots of listening and present time for her to heal from that time and she again went through a stage of hitting. During this time, she had significantly less autonomy and I imagine a lot of these feelings were a result of feeling powerless. She is now able to connect with her emotions and to cry and release as her emotions arise.
It also felt like she cried more easily than some children and seem to feel hurts more deeply. I was so grateful for Dr Elaine Aron’s book on highly sensitive children where it talks about highly sensitive children.
In the last few years, I have trained in Gestalt Play Therapy and have worked with children at an NGO to help heal trauma. I also now use Attachment Play from Dr. Solter.
For me working solely with children was not enough for real change to occur. The work needs to be with the parent. I have become passionate about helping and support parents and did some further training in Emotional Freedom Therapy to help parents heal from old hurts that may be getting in the way of them parenting the way they want to.
When our energy is blocked through past hurts, our willingness to do what is congruent with our values and be naturally who we want to be, our presence, energy, and life force is fundamentally altered. I now use all of these together when supporting parents from an Aware Parenting perspective.
I bring all of my training and experience of being a parent, to my sessions with you. My training enables me to support you as a parent in whatever way you need. I will work with you to establish the root cause of any difficulties you and your child may be having and help heal them in clear easy steps so that you have a joyful, fun connection with your child.
How can I help you