The Nurtured Heart Approach – Part 1: From Small Acorns, Great Oaks Grow

At The Benjamin Foundation, we aim to provide the best support services to everyone we work with by using ‘The Nurtured Heart Approach®’

Developed by Howard Glasser, this approach allows us to turn the most challenging situations toward success by focusing on individual skills and qualities and promoting our ‘inner wealth’. The Nurtured Heart Approach® is used in all our services with very positive results.

At the core of the Approach are ‘The 3 Stands’ – All three are necessary promises that we must be determined to keep if we are to create nurturing habits and make big changes:

  1. Absolute NO – Resolutely not putting any energy into mistakes made, wrong-doing or negative behaviours.
  2. Absolute YES – Making a big deal of detailing any and every great quality, success or positive behaviour.
  3. Clarity of rules, and consequences that are known and agreed; fair, restorative, short and meaningful.

So where did it all begin for our charity? We talked to our Founders, Richard and Vanessa Draper, about how they were inspired to bring The Nurtured Heart Approach to The Benjamin Foundation.

“There is seldom a situation where one simple action causes a supreme solution or conclusion.  That was certainly the case for The Nurtured Heart Approach taking root, germinating and blossoming to be inculcated into the ethos and culture within The Benjamin Foundation.” Vanessa says.

When Vanessa attended ‘Transforming the Difficult Child’ training in London to complement her learning within special education and working with young people, she didn’t expect to be so transformed and inspired by what the approach offered.

“It came as a total surprise half way through that day in 2006 to be startled by the purity and circle of benefit that Howard Glasser had refined with the Nurtured Heart Approach (NHA). It came as a complete lightning strike.”

Vanessa says that the desire to learn more became overwhelming.

“I read and I wrote and I shared with anyone who would listen.  I designed hundreds of worksheets and ideas sheets to aid colleagues and the children with whom I worked, never straying from the absolute integrity of the approach.”

Almost everyone who engaged with the approach moved forward; some in small ways, others in giant strides and most completely changed their family or working life. Vanessa was asked to train whole staff teams in three of the schools where she worked and all of the Nursery teams in North Norfolk.

“I adopted whatever I could of the methods into my walks, my shopping trips, my friends and my family life.”

After a time, the results and the power of the Nurtured Heart Approach began to be recognised.

The Benjamin Foundation CEO, also being Vanessa’s husband, had heard so much about the results with children and families over the years, and he was already very interested.  Vanessa’s Manager at The Benjamin Foundation, Kirsty Pitcher had also received so much training in this area and was dedicated to a different, specific approach and was fascinated to learn more about The Nurtured Heart Approach and understand its extensive possibilities.

From 2008, CEO Richard Draper was really starting to look at ways in which the Nurtured Heart Approach could be more widely used within our charity.

“Ethos and culture is massively important to me and although at that time I was still a few years away from retiring, I knew I wanted to do all I could to embed a really strong culture into the organisation.” Richard explains.

“The full embedding of the Nurtured Heart Approach was for me key to succeeding in that ambition.  My aim was to have everyone within The Benjamin Foundation, Trustees, all staff and key volunteers trained in the Nurtured Heart Approach.  And that is what we did – everyone completed a one-day training course, led by Alastair Gardiner, who had been tasked by Howard Glasser to expand the Nurtured Heart Approach in the UK.”

To get it ‘owned’ by the whole team a Nurtured Heart Champions Group was created, which met regularly and helped set the agenda and monitor progress.

Richard continues: “By 2012 things were going really well and we wanted to ensure the training momentum could be maintained, and potentially increased.  Alastair was really keen to bring Howard Glasser over to the UK to provide a train-the-trainer course. Howard was the only person qualified to run this course.”

We worked hard to get the necessary funding and Howard came over and delivered a one week programme to some 25 of our staff team and another 40 people from around the UK and Europe.  We were now in a great place to really step things up.  The Nurtured Heart Approach not only became fully embedded in our recruitment and HR policies and procedures, but we used the approach widely with the people who use our services to emphasise their successes.

From working with parents to show them how to use the Nurtured Heart Approach to increase enjoyment of family life, to providing emotional well-being support when working directly with children in schools, and working one to one working with young people across our accommodation centres in Norfolk and Suffolk, The Nurtured Heart Approach has transformed The Benjamin Foundation. It lays the foundations to build confidence and helps everyone from staff, volunteers and those who use our services to recognise their inner wealth and be proud of who they are.

Coming up in Part Two! Creative Development of The Nurtured Heart Approach and The Global Summit 2019…

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