In September Samuel Lewis attended the BADTH Conference, he kindly shared some of his experiences at the conference.
I attended David Read Johnson and Nisha Sajnani’s workshop about toxic stress and trauma informed schools. They had set up a project in the US to help encourage all children to write a letter to someone called Miss Kendra (a fantasy person, akin to Santa Claus). Miss Kendra would reply to all these children’s letters. Someone would be assigned to the role of Miss Kendra and reply to an individual letter. It was found that this project helped the wellbeing of all staff and children in the school. It was a moving experience to participate in an activity where I imagined I was a child writing to Miss Kendra and then to receive a letter back from her. They are planning to launch this programme in the UK. It made me think about how much I disagree with our current government’s idea of using “reasonable force” to discipline children when behaviour becomes challenging. We have to understand the root of the problem and acknowledge that many children are experiencing a degree of toxic stress which is why their behaviour appears challenging.
Ann Dix presented the workshop ‘Dramatherapy with Children who have experienced domestic abuse’ and referenced her story ‘Little-Mouse finds a safe place’. We were invited to make our own safe place for the little mouse. It reminded me of how important the needs are of a child who has been through such a traumatic experience as witnessing domestic violence.The child, represented by the little mouse in the story, eventually finding a place of nurture and the offer of hope.
I have participated in various mask workshops as an actor but I found it to be a different experience as a dramatherapist, with other dramatherapists, in Dolmen Domikles’ workshop ‘Hide and Seek- Self Discovery through masks’. It was interesting to reflect on how masks are often referred to in the West as something to hide behind when in fact they can reveal a part of someone. I volunteered to wear a mask and felt quite vulnerable to have a group of dramatherapists watching me and asking me (or the mask character) quite personal questions!
In the closing workshop it was quite extraordinary to see so many dramatherapists in one room together. In our day-to-day job, we might work with another dramatherapist or we might work on our own with a client. We often speak to other professionals about a particular client or clients, but it is not a regular occurrence for dramatherapists to be in one place together. It was good to touch base with people and make these connections.
Samuel Lewis, September 2019