Lesson Learned

It has only been a few weeks of this class and I already have a few confessions and areas in which I need/want to improve.

First, I am not a parent and having children will not be in the cards for me. Despite not having children, I have frequently judged the parenting of my family, friends, and acquaintances. I have made negative comments about them. I have given unsolicited advice/recommendations. I have thought to myself that if they were my children, they wouldn’t be misbehaving and/or would be doing so much better. Is it the Psy.D behind my name, my own arrogance, human nature, and/or lack of actual experience that gave me the false belief that I am all knowing? Regardless of where it came from, recent experiences, reading the “Empathy Field Guide” and article of human-centered design, and our group project with Thrive reminded me that it shouldn’t be there.

This semester, my husband and I offered to take my nieces (8 and 10) from Arizona who are required to home school (through public education) until January due to COVID-19. My sister is a teacher but is required to teach from school virtually; which, leaves my nieces home alone. So far, we have had the girls for two months and I am truly ashamed that I ever criticized a parent and/or a teacher for that matter. Immersing myself into a role of a caregiver & teacher has given me a new level of awareness and insight. Raising a child is hard work! If one could measure empathy or increase their empathic responses mine has doubled in the last two months from this experience. Never again will I judge a parent for having a child with messy hair or feeding their kids boxed mac and cheese for a week straight. Instead of giving my sisters advice on how they can do better, I will be calling to just check-in and give a supportive ear.

Our group is working with Thrive, who is currently expanding their social and emotional learning program to parents. They are developing a parent well-being program to include self-care, positive parenting techniques, and ways to improve staff (teacher)-parent communication. They appear to be using a human-centered design approach by looking at the whole unit (students, teachers, school leaders, and parents). Listening to our mentor & founder of Thrive- Jyothi, I was incredibly impressed and inspired with her passion and ideas to improve the lives of those she works with. I also thought to myself that the United States public education system could learn so much from Thrive. Through her program, children in low-income schools are obtaining 40 minutes of social and emotional learning a day during the school day. The parents are receiving phone calls to check-in on their well-being twice a week. Her work with Thrive seems absolutely ground breaking and I wonder what we (the United States) could do if we broke free of our arrogance by decolonizing design, using a more human-centered design approach, and really incorporated more empathy into our every day life.




This course will explore current trends in the assessment and delivery of child and adolescent mental health services. Our interdisciplinary group of students bring skills from psychology, social science and design to work on community based projects in the Global South.

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