Dr.Bessel Van Der Kolk describes wonderfully (in the second half of this little video) some simple ways and means to notice and work with "self-regulation" for clients... simple ways even a child can understand. And these ways directly relate to the "Blue Brain": from "On Your Mark".

Kathy Brower videos for the Trauma Informed School Conference


The Eensie Weensie Spider Dance!!

A dance consisting of basic, developmental movements for children, and set to the music of "Inside Out" an a-Cappella group. The name of this CD is "Primary Colors", song: "Eensie, Weensie Spider", and is available on iTunes. Please respect their great music and buy it! ^_^

These notes and charts will be available up to one week post conference

Conference: Banff, 2015      The Discovery Way, a heuristic protocol

I’ve never met a person whose past trauma was more compelling than their future potential. Ever. The most significant part of the impulse that we want to liberate using our medicine within people, is the force within them that is solely focused on manifesting that potential....the single largest input determining who that person is sitting in front of you, is the degree of how awake they are to that which inspires them.
— Lonny Jarret

The "protocol" we use is the "package" the balance session comes in. By the protocols we use, we are teaching the client even before we begin the work. We have been taught the importance of "play" in learning and how the brain (Carla Hannaford mentioned the effect of stress on DNA) can be more receptive to new learning if the "reptilian brain" and "limbic system" are relaxed and engaged in safe ways. When applying these concepts, simple games or activities can be useful. The purpose of these activities is to engage the learner as much as possible, to make them the initiator and the discoverer of their own process, so that their conscious ownership of the entire process is as high as possible. In this protocol, I will teach a few simple ways you might use to invite this type of learning with your clients.

Implicit Messages: How to teach what must be experienced before it can be named.

Notes for various activities:

In step 1 of the Discovery Way we teach tools related to stress reduction in everyday life and principles of the Muscle Response Check.

How many legs do you have? A silly question to begin the pattern of letting them teach you. When you teach the concept that we have "pairs" and that with all our "pairs" one leads and one follows, then that gives you an easy way to begin the games that can show you their "lead" eye, ear, hand, leg, hemisphere, etc. It is also a good way to introduce the idea of the "midline". I can then use the "midline" then, as the focal point to teach them how to "find" their mid-line (Brain Buttons), move across their midline (Cross Crawl), and hug their midline (Hook Ups).

Learning principles of the "Muscle Response Check". Think about something simple, easy to do and then you tell me when to gently push you. (Push them gently by the shoulders in different directions. As you do so, ask them to tell you about their breathing, their balance, their knees, etc. Just one or two simple questions, not many.)

Now think about something harder to do, something you are working on or that is somewhat stressful. Have them tell you when to push. (Push just the same as before, this time, asking them to once more notice their knees, breathing, balance: what is the same or different?)

Why does their body react that way? Ask them, did I do anything different? What happened? Teach them about the cerebellum. Here is a link to the article: "The Treasure At The Bottom Of The Brain" 

Now I can ask them if they would like to see how that works using just one muscle. I ask them which arm they would like to use, if it is okay to touch their opposite shoulder. I show them how hard I will push. I have them tell me when to push. We compare the same checks as before. (I often ask them to watch their arm, they can see it "come up" or respond when they think about the easy task. So they learn that they can not only feel the difference, they can actually see it as well.)

All these small steps are made to teach - implicitly - the final goal: They know who is in charge when their arm is extended. They know who has the responsibility to evaluate what is happening. They know that you trust them and that they can trust themselves. All these concepts can be very valuable when working with children and with survivors of trauma. These skills are a foundation of confidence for the client to be able to put what they learn in the session into practice in their lives. You give them this confidence not at the end...but at the beginning of the session.

Naming somatic markers in the Pre and Post Evaluations. In step 3 of the Discovery Way, we are teaching the client ways to be self-aware of how their body communicates to them, some call this "mindfulness". Somatic or visceral markers (evaluations) are important because these are windows into the mind when stressors make using logical language difficult. Here are some simple ways to use somatic markers with step three of the Discovery Way: Rate stress related to the goal on a scale of 1......................10. Ask the client to then locate where they are holding that stress in their body. If they are not certain, you can name general areas of the body to help them begin. Ask them to then describe the stress: heavy, dull, tight, throbbing, sharp, etc. Finally, if it were a color, what color would it be? All these questions can help the client "own" the change when they come to re-evaluate after the work is complete. 

For the purpose of our demonstration here, let us choose something simple:

One or two Brain Gym activities, Meridian Massage, Integrated Movements, etc. Of course when you work with a client, you will be using any techniques you already know. Any technique can be used in this outline or protocol.

Helping them to take the changes home into their lives. Lastly, I ask the client to make a contract with themselves. I ask them to name three things they do everyday. Easy, simple, enjoyable things that do not rely on anyone else. They then write a contract stating that every time they do these things, take these actions, they will be strengthening the change, the new movement, the new ability they gained today. This is a way to resource the power of the cerebellum, the power of the facia, the unconscious mind/knowledge/movement/energy for healing that so many have spoken of today. The client makes this a resource to aid and continue their healing.