One of the unique facets of the RedCliff therapeutic experience is the Parent Narratives. Parents use the narratives to tell the story of their child from the child’s very earliest beginnings. While their student is working on his autobiography through phase work in the field, parents are re-constructing the child’s life in writing. It’s an exercise that is unique to RedCliff with specific therapeutic benefits to both parent and child.

            “The narratives are not a lecture, they’re not a letter, they’re not a newsy. They’re a fairly structured story that is told in an elemental fashion so that the child is hearing the story of their life when they are in a place to actually hear it,” Doc Dan explains.

            “It surprises me to find kids that really don’t have that sense of what was happening at the time that their parents decided for them to be born,” he continues. “What was happening during their mother’s pregnancy with them? What was going on in the family? What were the kinds of things that the parents were doing? Usually a child doesn’t know that. They don’t know even the story about for instance how did they come to be named the name that they have, those kinds of things”

            According to Doc Dan, students on Developmental Vacation ™, who insist on maintaining their fantasy world, can’t allow themselves to hear the truth. For the fantasy to continue, they must see their parents only as obstacles in their path to freedom.

            “We find that once we have disrupted that dynamic and the child is actually in a place where they’re not just worrying about what they are going to say to argue, that it’s easier for them to hear the story and it becomes therapeutically very valuable,” Doc Dan explains. 

            Parents complete the narratives on line in RedCliff’s exclusive Parent Portal. Each narrative lists the correlating questions the student is responding to in the field. Then parents are asked to respond to their set of questions.

            Therapists print the narratives and take them to the field where they are read to the students.

            “We want them read in the adult voice because this is actually coming from the child’s parents,” Doc Dan says. “In a way, the parents now have a voice in that therapy session.”

            Just observing the child’s reaction as he hears the narrative often provides the therapist with valuable insight. So, too, does the parent’s willingness or unwillingness to complete the narratives.

            “In those relationships where the parents are separated or in those relationships where there’s been some alienation within the family, what happens with the Parent Narratives is that they recreate that relationship for us in real time while the child is in the field, even though the parent is not there,” Doc Dan explains. “Then we can move it in that direction and allow them to understand, here’s the reality of your life. Where do we go from here?”

            He admits the narratives are a lot of work and most parents are relieved when their assignments are completed. But he also hears parents tell him time and again how much the Parent Narratives have helped them understand their relationship with their child.

Watch the video on Parent Narratives at