'Listen First' Helps Family Counseling Sessions in the Philippines

January 2022

We’re pleased to learn that psychologist Ms. Maria N. Clara Abas has been using 'Listen First' materials in her practice in a drug use disorder rehabilitation center in the Philippines. Ms. Abas provides psychological assessments, family therapy interventions, and post-rehabilitation interventions for people in substance use disorder treatment programs and their families. Many of her clients are adolescents, aged 12 to 16, whose parents find it challenging to effectively communicate with their teens. The families have difficulties related to discipline and working together to help the adolescents follow the rules in the household. In her sessions, Ms. Abas helps their parents become "better", communicate more effectively, and set clear and consistent expectations. She has successfully used the 'Listen First' materials especially related to the video called ‘Ice Cream Rules'. 

Ms. Abas shows the film to start the conversation about setting clear rules.  The playful and fun animation shows a child who wants ice cream before eating a healthy family dinner. The parents' clear expectations and patience eventually result in the child eating healthy food before enjoying the ice cream, shared by them all.

"Nothing is said, but the video says a lot," commented one of the parents during the session. 

This particular parent often took the lead in the sessions and did not leave time for the daughter to express what was going on in her mind. However, after six months of ongoing therapy sessions, the family agreed about actions to improve their communication. Another client was reunited with his family after residential substance use disorder treatment, where he also received interventions for depression and his suicidal ideas. The parents sought counseling because they saw worrying signs - but they needed help with the communication.  

Ms. Abas explains: "I showed the 'Listen First' Science of Care videos on active listening as well as ‘Ice Cream Rules.’ We discussed how the family can initiate an effective conversation with a purpose. The parents recognized that they had failed to set boundaries for their child. The video helped the family talk about the difference between wants and needsOther clients shown the videos report that they are learning to follow the rules and be considerate to others." 

Ms. Abas will continue to use the videos to educate parents, adolescents, and families that science-based ways of effective communication may help enhance their parenting skills.

"Listen First’ is a tool that helps people think about how to communicate, set clear expectations and negotiate the difficulties of life in a fun and playful way. It does not tell my clients what to do but rather shows them how life can be different if they behave differently," she concludes. 

For more information about Ms. Abas' work, click here.   

Are you an educator, health/prevention worker, or other professional involved in prevention work? Have you been using ‘Listen First’ in your local context? We would love to hear from you! Contact us through our new “engagement page” here.

Made possible with the generous support of France.