Stop imposing masculine stereotypes on sensitive boys

sensitive boysBetsy de Thierry talks about her her new book, The Simple Guide to Sensitive Boys, and discusses the need for society to stop imposing male stereotypes upon them about how they should behave.

“The creative mind is wired with the ability to feel with great depth and passion. Without good strategies for managing this hypersensitivity, instead of creativity the result can be a plunge into the emotional depths.”[1]

Being male today seems to be complicated. We recognise the statistics that demonstrate the mental health struggle for many males in adulthood, and yet many environments are not recognising the challenges around being male in childhood. The link is important because I believe that we could prevent a lot of the mental health problems presenting themselves if we were able to meet the emotional needs of men at a young age. Continue reading

Take a look inside The Illustrated Guide to Dyslexia and Its Amazing People

illustrated guide dyslexiaFilled with gentle humour and colourful imagery, The Illustrated Guide to Dyslexia and Its Amazing People uses visual content to bring dyslexia to life. Suitable for all age groups, this Guardian Bookshop and Amazon bestseller explains what dyslexia means, how it feels, what to do about it, and how to learn to embrace it.

Click here to look inside the book

   Or if you would like to purchase a copy, please click here.

If you would like to read more articles on dyslexia and get the latest news and offers on our Education books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer. You may also be interested in liking our Special Education, PSHE and Early Years Resources Facebook page.

What is the science behind being creative and why are people with dyslexia so good at it?

Dyslexia CreativityMargaret Malpas, author of Self-fulfilment with Dyslexia, provides an overview of the creative process in a person’s brain and explores the reasons why creativity is a particular strength of people with dyslexia.

Click here to read the extract

Her book, printed on cream paper so that it is easy on the eye, is a very simple to follow guide designed to help people with dyslexia make the most of their true potential. Royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to the British Dyslexia Association. Find out more about the book here.

Why not join our Special Educational Needs mailing list for more exclusive content from authors and information on upcoming books? You can unsubscribe at any time. Click here to sign up.

Follow us on Facebook @JKPspecialeducation.

Summer Holiday activites for younger children with Autism and other learning difficulties (Day 5).

This one probably requires a trip to the local arts store but will provide hours of possibilities and fun once it’s mixed together.

GLOWING WATER

In just a few steps we can turn basic tap water into buckets of fluorescent fun.

Here’s all you need

  • Water
  • A container
  • NON-TOXIC fluorescent paint
  • Backlight bulb

GO!
1. Add a few tablespoons of fluorescent paint in any color into very warm or hot water:

2. stir until completely mixed

3. add as much water as you’d like to increase the volume, stopping before the glow is too diluted.

 

You’ve got the base for glow-in-the-dark water balloons.

And that’s IT! Now get glowing!

 

Taken from The Asperkid’s Game Plan by Jennifer Cook O’Toole

Summer Holiday activites for younger children with Autism and other learning difficulties (Day 3).

For day 3 we turn to those little coloured bricks that are an endless source of fascination for a lot of children on the spectrum.

LEGO MY CREATION

This one is for parents with two children of a similar age range and here communication is the key.

 

Here’s what you will need

  • Two small containers each holding an identical assortment of “parts – Lego Bricks (but could also be figures, building blocks, pipe cleaners – anything works as long as both containers contain the same objects.

Sit your two contestants back-to-back and give each one a container that has the items in it which are identical to their partner’s.

Player 1 has 3 minutes to construct whatever they want out of the pieces – the only rule is that they have to use ALL of them (oh and no peaking from player 2)

When the time is up player 1 must explain to player 2 what he/she has made, the aim here is to make player 2 see what player 1 sees. Player 2 has to repeat back the instructions that they can remember a section at a time giving player 1 a chance to clarify and redirect if they didn’t get it right the first time. Each direction has to be as specific as possible and player 1 might need some coaching to help him/her paint a clear enough ‘word picture’.

If player 2 is quite verbose and asking lots of questions for clarification it is good to remind them about the importance of communication, that it goes two ways and when we don’t allow others the time they need to think and process we deny our teammates the chance to improve their skills and lower their sense of accomplishment.

The aim of the game is for player 2 to have exactly the same Lego creation as player 1.

You can adjust the complexity of the game by the number and size of pieces involved.

 

Taken from The Asperkid’s Game Plan by Jennifer Cook O’Toole

 

Incorporating creativity in supervision

Chesner-Zografo_Creative-Superv_978-1-84905-316-7_colourjpg-print Anna Chesner, co-author of Creative Supervision Across Modalities, explains why using creativity in supervision sessions can benefit both the supervisor and supervisee, and gives her top tips for any therapist or helping professional new to using this approach.

Why is the use of creativity so effective in supervision sessions?
Creativity helps to link right brain and left brain understanding of practice. Often as practitioners we may have a feeling of stuckness, or going round in circles. Using creative methods helps us to facilitate new perspectives and fresh energy.

How can creative supervision ensure that a fresh perspective is maintained in supervision sessions, and how does this benefit the supervisor and supervisee?
Creative supervision can bring a new perspective and fresh energy to reflecting on our clinical or other professional practice. This in term can bring fresh energy and clarity to our sessions with clients. If supervision itself lacks vitality it may become part of the problem, rather than facilitating possible solutions.

In chapters 2 and 3 of your new book you write about the importance of roles in creative supervision – why is this? Which of the roles you mention do you think it is most difficult for a new supervisor to take on? Is there one that they tend to slip into more easily?
Not so much roles as an understanding of role (singular). The concept of role helps us to think about our “way of being” and our clients’ way of being. It is a practical tool for looking at patterns of behaviour and relating. Supervisor’s need an awareness of the multiple roles they may inhabit as a supervisor, and in the best case some role flexibility. Similarly, practitioners from all fields can benefit from thinking about their own roles in their practice, and indeed the roles of their clients within their various systems.

What is the most challenging thing you have to cover with trainee supervisors? What is it that they usually struggle most with in terms of incorporating creativity into sessions?
Supervision trainees have firstly to meet the challenge of getting to grips with the role of supervisor, which is distinct from their more familiar roles as clinician. There is an added challenge in learning how to use creative techniques in a way that is a spontaneous response to the supervisory question or focus and remains firmly within the frame of supervision.

Why is it that ‘irrational’ thinking can be such a crucial part of the creative process?
Not so much irrational as out of awareness, or known only implicitly. Face to face clinical work involves the practitioner in complex, multi-layered interactions, where physical or felt sense, and imagination are as important as the actual words spoken. Our right brain awareness can be brought to light particularly well through creative approaches to supervision.

You mention several times the importance of establishing a clear focus in the supervisory session – why is this?
A clear focus or supervisory question is helpful for a number of reasons. It ensures transparency about what kind of help or reflection opportunity is being sought. It supports a collaborative approach between supervisor and supervisee. It reveals the level at which a supervisee is able to reflect on and articulate their process.

What are the top tips you would give to a supervisor who is new to using creativity in their sessions?
– Reflect on your own interventions in the light of supervision theory
– Bring your creative supervision practice to your own supervision space
– Remain open to new learning
– Undertake training in the use of creative supervision methods

 

How well do you know yourself?

Bolton_Writers-Key_978-1-84905-475-1_colourjpg-webWe make assumptions about ourselves all the time, but how much do we really know?

As Gillie Bolton says in the opening chapter of her new book The Writer’s Key, ‘The simple action of putting words on a page can begin to help us find out what we think, believe and know’.

This exercise taken from the book is a great way to begin to explore ourselves through writing; our worries, our fears, our hopes, and our aspirations.

All you need to have a go is a pen and a piece of paper. You might be surprised by what you discover!

Download the free writing exercise here

 

 

Worlds in Collision: Music and the Trauma of War

Delegates listen to composer and music therapist Nigel Osborne speaking at the conference. Photo: Robert Piwko

Delegates listen to composer and music therapist Nigel Osborne speaking at the conference. Photo: Robert Piwko

JKP author Julie Sutton was invited to speak at the Worlds in Collision: Music and the Trauma of War conference held in London’s Mansion House at the end of June. In this interview, she describes her experiences of working in the areas of trauma and conflict after the Bosnian war and the many diverse and inspiring approaches for dealing with the results of trauma covered by different speakers at the event. She also explains why her upcoming book, co-authored with Jos De Backer, will focus on promoting an awareness of an integration of musical thinking and theories of the mind.

How did you originally become involved in speaking at this conference? What does the theme of the conference mean to you personally?

I was invited because of my experience in the areas of music therapy, conflict and trauma. During the immediate ceasefire relating to the Bosnian war, I was invited by Prof Nigel Osborne and Ian Ritchie to visit Mostar and Sarajevo, to discuss the possibility of using the shell of a building in Mostar to build a music centre, including a music therapy department. They were interested in me because of my experiences in Belfast during the conflict, and my publications and conference presentations relating to psychological trauma (e.g. my work leading up to the book Music, Music Therapy & Trauma, which was the culmination of a Millennium Award I received). This first visit to Bosnia made an enormous impression on me, when I met some extraordinary people who were living in circumstances beyond the ordinary.

To make this trip from Belfast only served to heighten this experience and particularly to see what had happened to Mostar, a city with two different religious groups. While Belfast had and was still experiencing violent, destructive events, in Mostar I discovered how a functioning society that had been providing a full education programme for its children was now struggling to maintain and support its population, as well as trying to come to terms with the horrific impact of war. The special school children and staff I met and worked with were based in a bombed out hotel. Another school building was being shared by three different schools on a daily rota system. The memory of the extent of the destruction in Mostar and Sarajevo and its effect on the people I met stays with me to this day.

The Pavarotti Music Centre then grew out of the ruins of the building I had seen and music education, therapeutic experiences of music and music therapy were provided. I learned a great deal from this first visit to Bosnia, and from being a consultant for the Pavarotti Centre across a number of years, and working with the music therapists who were based there and who had travelled from different areas of Europe and N. America to take on the work. Because of this link, I had a very personal connection with this particular conference.

Musicians from the Band of the Adjutant General's Corps. Photo: Robert Piwko

Musicians from the Band of the Adjutant General’s Corps. Photo: Robert Piwko

Could you describe a little bit about the day at the conference itself – what did you particularly enjoy or find interesting or surprising about any of the presentations and discussions?

I attended the first day of the conference.  Perhaps the most striking thing about the day was the range and diversity of approaches to the trauma of war, such as from psychiatry, psychology and applied psychological approaches such as music therapy. To have eminent speakers providing an interdisciplinary perspective is always a rich experience, but at this conference there was also the involvement of the army, who began the day with a lively presentation by Major Guy Booth, about the work of the Band of the Adjutant General’s Corps. The Band has a number of contemporary ensembles supporting both civilian and military events, including playing for soldiers in fields of war. As well as enjoying and being touched by the music they played, it created a different atmosphere to have serving soldiers as part of the audience, and also knowing that these were musicians as well as soldiers. Through their own experiences, these young men and women also knew about the therapeutic impact that music can have, in ways that speak more deeply and directly to us than the very necessary and valuable research and theory building.

 

Your upcoming book, co-edited with Jos De Backer, will emphasise how essential the music is within music therapy. Was this a theme covered by many of the other speakers at the conference and why do you think this is such a crucial aspect of music therapy?

Jos and I believe that there should be awareness of an integration of musical thinking (detailed awareness and experiences of music in the clinical setting as well as the therapist’s own awareness of their musical identity) and theories of the mind (mental structures, in particular a psychodynamic frame of thought that connects the mind to the body,). My contribution to this conference was from this stance, something that acknowledges and also goes beyond neurological ideas, developmental theories or a medical music therapeutic approach to trauma.

We know that music exists on the same level where the central difficulties experienced by psychiatric patients can be located.  The relationship between music and psychopathology gives music therapy a crucial place in the treatment of psychiatric patients. A detailed and layered thinking about the impact of music upon us and upon psychopathology is at the centre of our thinking.

In our book we describe clinical material that demonstrates the fundamental significance of therapists’ listening to and thinking about music. While many authors have written about the art and science of music therapy, we propose to detail the central musical components of the work of a music therapist, as this is integrated into clinical practice. Some presenters at the conference did give information and included literature and research from psychology and neurology in relation to the brain and music, but apart from my paper there was no mention of the kind of integration that Jos and I focus on in our book. We hope very much that the book will serve as a first platform for this way of thinking about music and music therapy in this integrated way, as practiced in countries across Europe.

 

Delegates at the conference. Photo: Robert Piwko

Delegates at the conference. Photo: Robert Piwko

Can you explain a little bit about your talk and how music therapy has been used in ‘the theatres of war?’

There is not sufficient space to summarise the complexities of this area here, because when one is living within a ‘theatre of war’, one is at both a physical and emotional limit (and at times beyond) what the human embodied mind can manage. These are experiences beyond the ordinary, and which take us to the edges of what it is possible to experience and process. It is impossible not to be affected by these experiences. Because music is an incredibly powerful medium, speaking so directly to the body and mind, I believe it should be used with great caution and delicacy for those post-traumatised. A detailed and careful theoretical integration of theories of music and theories of mental structures (the mind in action) is thus essential. For my presentation I focused on one aspect, on experiences of time in the consulting room, where both patient and therapist may have varying senses of themselves in or out of time. I explore this further in a chapter in our book, because it is also one central aspect of music, and another way of thinking about what music therapy can bring as a treatment for those in distress.

The magic of puppetry in dementia care

copyrightKM2012Writing1BWIn this post Karrie Marshall, author of Puppetry in Dementia Care, describes using the power of puppetry to engage with emotions that go beyond words and memory, and how she was met with a tentative response on first suggesting the idea in adult care work.

When I first started talking about joyfulness in relation to dementia, people found that a difficult concept to consider. At conferences I noticed the majority of terms used to describe dementia conveyed a sense of hopelessness and despair. These difficult feelings are of course very real for many family carers and individuals facing a diagnosis of dementia. However, it is also important to acknowledge the real capacity for humour, positive relations, creativity and enjoyment.

My talks give examples from the book of uplifting experiences shared by people with dementia and their carers (family or paid staff). I love hearing members of the audience talk about their own experiences. People generally want better services or want to know how to improve dementia care. The talks help people see this is possible.

Throughout my career in nursing and lecturing I found people learned more and communicated better in a creative environment. My specialty is puppetry, but all art forms can reduce stress, increase confidence and improve interactions with or without words. I am interested in how we (professional care staff, family carers, relatives, artists and the general public) can use this knowledge to improve quality of lives.

Recently my talk for the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute focused on positive communication. Talks for local libraries give practical tips and creative ideas from the book. My university talks focus on person-centred care and compassion, which are major themes underpinning the book. The talks also offer opportunities to share best practice with carers and artists.

When I first introduced puppetry into adult care work, there was a hesitant response! But puppetry has a long history with adults (making social and political comment). There is also a magical quality to puppets. They engage with emotions that go beyond words or memory. I love the stories in the book that show how people with dementia focus on the puppet and completely ignore the puppeteers, the staff and the relatives!

One of the biggest challenges carers face is around relationship changes. Sometimes the nature of the dementia may mean reduced recognition of a loved one. For others the relatives are dealing with mood swings or behaviour changes. Learning how to let go of the relationship they used to have whilst maintaining a loving and meaningful connection is complex. In the book I show how this process is possible through creativity. First I explore a theory about relationships between care-givers and care-receivers that describes a progression towards alienation.  During talks, audience members give examples of feeling they are losing someone, or of drifting apart.

However, over the past ten years of working creatively with families and care staff and people with dementia, I know people can go beyond alienation. They can re-emerge into a different way of connecting that has moments of pure joy and wonderment. People have different ways of reaching this, but generally we find people with dementia get there faster!

Each experience of dementia is individual, and that is a key message in the book. Not everyone wants to be actively engaged, so we discuss the therapeutic use of silence and breathing in unison. Often I find this leads to participation. It works because people tune into where the person is. The book explores theories about human motivation and the importance of matching individual needs.

One of my favourite stories is about a man who people thought might not be interested in anything to do with creativity and certainly not puppetry.  He turned out to be one of our most enthusiastic participant puppeteers. He helped make a puppet of himself (instructions are given in the book).  This had great presence and character, as so many of the ‘soul puppets’ tend to have.  I often get a sense that the work helps us see people more clearly. Creativity has no boundaries.

It takes a long time – perhaps a lifetime – and a lot of practice to really understand what it means to be person-centred, to genuinely consider and positively respond to individual preferences. Yet this is at the heart of good dementia care. Writing the book helped me explore how we can better do this, and highlights the importance of support for carers to connect confidently and creatively.

 

 

Celebrating the stories of Sesame

Singing 'The Little Green Frog', led by Frankie Armstrong (standing), Jenny Pearson beside her.

Singing ‘The Little Green Frog’, led by Frankie Armstrong (standing), Jenny Pearson beside her.

JKP was delighted to attend the launch of Dramatherapy with Myth and Fairy-tale: The Golden Stories of Sesame by Jenny Pearson, Mary Smail and Pat Watts at Central School of Speech and Drama in North London on Saturday 15th June.

The launch was crowded with the authors’ colleagues, former students, friends and family, all keen to celebrate this exceptional book – among them Alida Gersie, who wrote the foreword, and JKP author, Sue Jennings. Jenny Pearson and Mary Smail regaled their audience with anecdotes of myth and fairytale in action, as well as reminiscences of Sesame days past. We were treated to two a cappella myth-based songs by Frankie Armstrong, world renowned singer and Voice Workshop leader, who also opened the occasion with a rendition of the warm-up song, ‘The Little Green Frog’ (with help from Jenny’s young grandson, Dylan).

The event was preceded by ‘Pat Fest’ – a tribute to Pat Watts, one of the authors, who unfortunately did not get to see the finished book, but who was responsible for committing her share of the stories to paper (originally on scraps of paper and envelope backs, as her co-authors revealed at the launch!). As a key figure in the history of the Sesame course and the creator of its first Myth element, many people came to rejoice in Pat’s remarkable work and legacy, and she was honoured with an enactment of ‘The Flowering Tree’ facilitated by Jeni Treves and Alison Kelly, coordinators on the Creative Arts supervision training course (CAST).

It was a hugely enjoyable evening and a wonderful way to celebrate this special book.

Below are a selection of pictures from the event:

Frankie Armstrong sings a ballad.

Frankie Armstrong sings a ballad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jenny Pearson sining the book. In the background, picture of Pat Watts (the third author who sadly died while the book was being written) and three of her paintings.

Jenny Pearson signing the book. In the background, picture of Pat Watts and three of her paintings.

Mary Smail reading from the book. Next to her, Frankie Armstrong and Jenny Pearson, with her grandson Dylan on her knee.

Mary Smail reading from the book. Next to her, Frankie Armstrong and Jenny Pearson, with her grandson Dylan on her knee.

Mary Smail speaking to the crowd, with Jenny Pearson behind her.

Mary Smail speaking to the crowd, with Jenny Pearson behind her.

'Forever Mountain', a story from the book, told by Jenny Pearson, with Frankie Armstrong seated on her left

‘Forever Mountain’, a story from the book, told by Jenny Pearson, with Frankie Armstrong seated on her left.