When we think of resilience, we may have words like strength, determination, and will come to mind. In my last conversation with Parker Newton, MS, ACMHC, we dig into what resilience means as it relates to his students.
Journey To The Present
Parker described in one word (because there are so many things one could fathom from just one interaction), would be multitudinal—for all the layers in which he shares his identity as a therapist. This doesn’t stray far from his personal style which is bright and welcoming. His background has a focus on Adventure Based Psychotherapy and Addiction throughout his graduate studies coupled with having worked in a variety of treatment settings spanning from mindfulness meditation retreats, in-patient residential treatment centers, after-school substance abuse clinics, and a family expedition therapist. Parker received the clinical foundation he needed to be in the role he is in today as Primary Therapist. I believe the reason he was chosen to work with students of specific backgrounds is because of his infectious, relatable personality.
Human Beings In Training
The students and families Parker works with have a history of high-risk substance use, oppositional defiance, trauma, attachment disruptions, ADHD, depression, and anxiety. As Parker puts it, “they are the kids that hate being told no. They all have a pain in their heart that prevents them from doing work for themselves and instead, working for other people. They struggle with being in control, communication, voicing their emotions, advocating for themselves, and being heard.” What drew him to work with students with these kinds of backgrounds is the genuine ability to be able to see past their struggles and connect with them in a very relatable way. “They are the kindest, most capable and genius human beings in training. They are the funniest humans, and I can’t imagine working with anyone else.”
As a parent of young children, Parker understands what it’s like to guide humans through difficult situations–It’s only fitting that he would speak about what resilience means for his students and their relationships with their parents. “I know it’s so hard and at times it is a lot of work to hold boundaries. We aren’t their friends. [I want to promote] being vulnerable and sharing emotions. How do you become more resilient [while showing that] mindfulness is a resilience builder: By not judging those emotions .” He also sees that sometimes a students’ defiance or lack of honesty is just pain lost in grief and that as a parent, it is not our job to assuage kids from pain, rather manage loss through hardship and failing. “Not all pain is trauma. I try to make a space for a student to decide their relationship to pain rather than labelling it. I’m not out to demonize substance use—that’s not my job to do that or name it, rather, figure out their relationship to it.”
If there’s anything Parker wants prospective parents and current families to know or walk away with, it’s how he fully understands the power and impact of witnessing others who feel comfortable in their own skin. “I feel so comfortable that it allows other people to find their true self…. I will find commonality with another human and accentuate it. I want to help them develop their purpose if they don’t know what that is.”
This week, Parker was featured in our staff spotlight where we acknowledge a team member and their contributions to outBACK throughout the week. You can follow along on Instagram for future staff spotlights.