Guide spotlight: Uncovering what lies beneath challenging behaviors

Cleo Guide and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Alexis, let us in on the essential work of building connection with member families to help them through this process of discovery.

No matter the age of their child, parents frequently come to us with questions about challenging, or even risky behaviors. A lot of the work of Cleo Guides and Specialists lies in helping parents uncover what is driving such behavior to connect them with the right support solutions, whether that’s additional help from within Cleo or utilizing their other benefits and connecting with local support.

Alexis, Cleo Guide and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, let us in on the essential work of building connection with member families in order to help them through this process of discovery.

“The answer is support. We’re not meant to parent alone. We’re meant to have a village.”

Alexis, Cleo Guide and Mental Health Expert

Problem behavior or a normal part of development?

Uncovering the answer is a process at which Cleo Guides and Specialists are especially adept. Parents often bring relatively straightforward questions to their Guide, and sometimes the solution is equally direct. But in the realm of behavior—and in particular teen behavior—what parents initially feel challenged by may be the thread that helps unravel, and uncover, another underlying issue.

When the parents of one teen reached out to Alexis for help limiting screen time it opened the door to uncovering that there were a variety of power struggles taking place, and other challenges including teen substance use. Through a process of peeling back the layers, Alexis, along with Cleo Specialists, equipped them with tactics for navigating these behaviors while taking care of themselves.

Similarly, another one of Alexis’s member parents came to her for help getting the importance of education, one of his own deeply held values, to resonate with his teen. Alexis helped him uncover that what was really missing for him was a stronger emotional connection with his child, and the focus on education had become a barrier between them.

As Alexis puts it, “Connection is the medicine. Whatever problem we’re facing, there is likely a disconnect. Parents are gaining that from their Guide. They’re able to connect with their Guide, able to learn skills about connection and regulation and meeting needs, and then pass that on to their children.”

Reparenting ourselves

The role of Cleo Guides is dynamic and multi-faceted, and it can be difficult to describe unless you’ve worked with one, or you are one. Alexis eloquently reflects on it in light of the notion of reparenting, a concept in therapy based on the belief that many issues can be traced back to unmet needs in childhood.

“We have to reparent ourselves. There are needs that weren’t met in our childhood and those really light up for us with our own kids.

“We’re able to be a part of helping members reparent by fully seeing and hearing their needs. We offer constant validation and normalization and are able to name things they haven’t thought about and connect them with the right resources to get that need met.”