A gentle start to a week long conference designed to create a somewhat calmer space for 3000 people to register across a Sunday afternoon, opens with a conversation and you know how much I love conversations! I’m going to share the wisdom from the first conversation with you which was facilitated by the very lovely Janise Mitchell of the Australian Childhood Foundation interviewing who I have affectionately come to call The Boys; Jon Baylin and Dan Hughes.
I always love listening to Jon and Dan because they demonstrate the beautiful practice of ‘always learning.’ I get frustrated and also sad in equal measure when people tell me they’ve ‘done trauma’ which unfortunately means that they haven’t even begun to understand the work. I’m going to take a guess that these accomplished men are in their 80’s and they continue to talk about what needs exploring next, shifting the paradigms, unlearning and developing the collective wisdom of all the different lenses we apply to this work across many disciplines.
The ’conversation’ format is informal but even in that context there were many nuggets that I can share with you. There was much exploration about blocked care which refers to the experiences of carers struggling to care for a child who has blocked trust. The acknowledgment being one of compassion which understands is that it is very hard to care for children who don’t want to be cared for. It is vital that this isn’t pathologised as it is when we talk about disorders but rather, that it is noticed and that the child is not lost in this ‘perfect storm.’
Jon talked about the power of being prepared to be moved (I love that so much) and how that has required ‘unlearning’ much of what is taught in some therapy spaces and developing a deep understanding that if we don’t feel ‘it’ we can’t help ‘it’. This sits very closely within my own emerging research findings which highlight the depth a relationship needs to go to in order to have the impact that we so often desire.
Dan went on to provide what could be described of as a model for relational practice; centralise safety, co-regulate and then co-create meaning. This is very much how emotion coaching and restorative practice work. The co-creation of sense making, of developing a language, a narrative, by which to understand something troubling, is a key part of healing. It helps us to share stories.
Janise had opened up this conversation to share the sad passing of Archie Roach this weekend who said that it is the sharing of stories that helps us survive. A child of the Stolen Generations, he was forcibly removed from the age of two years old by the Government and placed in an orphanage. He was a musician and a campaigner for the rights of Indigenous Australians and I am going to make a point of listening to his song, to his melody, to his ‘tune’, to the journey of healing after experiencing such a violent assault in his childhood along with so many others.
I could write so much more, but for now let me leave you with thoughts of story telling, of song and of being prepared to be moved by sitting alongside that which can often feel too much, overwhelming, even unbearable. It is in these spaces that healing resides…