We completed the Gentle Sleep Coach® Program (GSC). This is the world’s first certified, professional sleep coaching program. The program is a carefully composed course in which theory and practice come together. The lectures are given by specialists and professionals from different fields. They share their knowledge about child development and its influence on sleep and possible sleep problems. Guiding parents and a gentle way of coaching children to improve sleep, is central to the GSC approach.
The GSC program
In order to be allowed to take part in the American program, you have to pass a selection process. This ensures that all participants (worldwide) are motivated and qualified. After an extensive application process, a personal interview with the founder Kim West (also known as “The Sleep Lady”) follows. She decides who is admitted and who is not. Kim has been helping tired parents for over 20 years.
Together with other international students, we have attended lectures from a large number of top specialists. Amongst others: pediatricians, psychologists, lactation consultants, post-partum doulas, family therapists and Kim West herself.
Before we were allowed to call ourselves Gentle Sleep Coach®, we passed exams and participated case supervision with Kim West. As a GSC we still have the possibility to have clinical supervision with Kim. To maintain our certification, ongoing advanced training is required.
Program topics are among others:
- Sleep Science and Behavioural Therapy
- Child development
- Attachment Theory
- Support for the nursing mother
Lectures were given by experts, such as:
- Shoshana Bennett, Postpartum Depression – Author and leading specialist in the field of postpartum depression.
- Lewis Kass, Medical Disorders and Sleep Apnea in Children – Director of the Children’s Sleep Center in New York.
- Anthony Loizides, Reflux and Sleep – Pediatric Gastroenterologist.
As Gentle Sleep Coach® professionals, we do not believe in a one size fits all method and would never recommend the “cry-it-out” method.
Newborns and young babies
A substantial part of the GSC program, is working babies younger than 6 months old. We completed this part with exams. Now we have the knowledge and tools essential to work with parents of young babies. This training includes around 40 hours of theory and mentoring. Topics covered:
- Detailed knowledge of the delicate nature of young babies between younger than 6 months.
- Up-to-date and scientifically-based guidelines and instructions specifically for guiding young babies (and assessing if and when a baby is ready for sleep coaching).
- Gentle sleep solutions and strategies that are effective and that suit the young baby’s development.
The Wonder Weeks
As a GSC®, Karolien also did the program Child Mental Health and Development at The Wonder Weeks Academy. This program has been specially developed for professionals who want a deeper understanding of the beautiful world of babies and who want to learn more about the “Wonder Weeks”; these are the neurodevelopmental leaps that every child goes through. Approved by the British Psychological Society, the program includes infant observation films, lectures, quizzes and helpful tips and activities for professionals working with families. Graduates of this training have a broad fundamental knowledge about the mental health and development of the infant. The following topics were discussed:
- Early neurodevelopment from womb to cradle.
- The importance of early relationships.
- Baby’s language.
- The science behind the Wonder Weeks.
- All the mental leaps that babies go through.