This review appeared in the summer (2019) edition of Play for Life, an International journal for Play Therapists.
GROUNDED ~ Discovering the Missing Piece in the Puzzle of Children’s Behaviour
CHEW Initiatives, 2018
Paperback 131 pp
Claire Wilson has many years of experience in working with children, parents and teachers. Starting out as a teacher, a youth worker and helping to run retreats for adults, she became a play therapist in 2008. She is now an accredited play therapist, supervisor and has an MA in practice-based play therapy. Her vocation is further demonstrated through being the founder of CHEW initiatives, (chewinitiatives.com) and an advocate for children’s mental health.
“Grounded” is a concise text written for all adults that care for children both professionally and personally. It is written from the heart, with a genuine passion and dedication to enlightening and supporting the reader with the message that adults possess the most significant variable in influencing children’s behaviour. The book is engaging, very easy to read and has a clear, appealing layout with diagrams to illustrate the key points. Claire seamlessly incorporates evidence from neuroscience, predominantly Porges’ polyvagal theory, (with neuroception as a key element), and the work of Bruce Perry. She has astutely outlined this theory in a very accessible way. Case studies from her work and personal life are used throughout the text, really bringing the book to life. Practical ideas are also offered, lending it to being a book to revisit time and again.
Although not written specifically for Play Therapists, I believe that “GROUNDED” will be of deep interest to those at all levels, from just embarking on the certificate course, to seasoned practitioners. Claire highlights the link between the mind and body in a trauma informed and holistic approach, compatible with PTUK’s model. “Grounded” offers a powerful reminder about the value of human connection and relationships as the keystone to managing behaviour. The author accentuates the notion that all key adults can unwittingly influence the behaviour of children; I found it incredibly useful to have neuroception explained in terms of this impact. For me personally, this book has encouraged me to introspect on how my own physiological state is “neurocepted” by the children I work with. Equally, when attempting to unravel a child’s behaviour when the cause is not obvious, it has highlighted to me the significance of considering the influence of other key relationships. Consequentially, this has encouraged me to reconsider the benefits of working with parents alongside their children in these terms.
The author briefly outlines the trauma-healing modalities of somatic experiencing and TRE, in which she is trained. These may be of interest to more experienced practitioners as areas to consider for CPD.
Because of the considerate, supportive and straightforward writing style, this book is one I will recommend to parents and teachers; the author is non-judgmental and kind to the reader. Recently, I have delivered a staff meeting on de-escalation and found it useful to convey the key message I got from the book: Bodies speak louder than words; it is only when we are grounded that we can fully help a child to calm, (Wilson, 2018).
Claire Wilson’s genuine commitment to the message she delivers is demonstrated through an invitation to join an online supportive community in which adults can further explore their journeys in becoming more grounded. I thoroughly recommend this book to everyone who has a desire to influence children in a positive way. Not only is it informing, encouraging and supportive but offers an attainable way in which all adults, in becoming more grounded, can pave the way to enable children to be their best selves.
Helena Cole, PTUK Certified Play Therapist
This is an important message for anyone starting any professionally supported healing journey.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am an advocate for people of all ages, getting help and support when we need it. There are times we all need someone who is professional, appropriately trained, qualified and experienced to walk with us for a bit. I have been there. It can really help.
However, I recently heard the experience of a dear lady who had been referred for counselling by her GP.
She is a sweet, caring, funny, and well mannered lady. She comes from the generation who grew up before technology. No TV, phones, texts, tweets or Facebook. And as do many survivors of childhood trauma, she has strong values around not hurting people, or doing or saying anything that might make someone upset.
She had been struggling with physical and mental challenges for over 3 years, and finally found the strength to ask her GP for help.
Desperate to start to feel better, she plucked up all her courage and arrived for a counselling session – the first of the 6 she was allocated.
She didn’t like it much. When I asked her why not, she explained ‘the lady’ sat behind her table and spent a lot of the time staring out of the window. “It was strange. She didn’t look at me, I’m not sure if she was listening, she just kept looking out of the window – I thought she must be on the look out for a nice young man!”
This is not ok.
It is SO. NOT. OK.
When she told me this I kept myself professionally together, but noticed an internal volcano erupt. It was a combination of sadness for this precious lady who was treated this way, and absolute indignant rage that she was treated this way by a ‘professional’ who is supposed to help her get better, not make things worse.
This is not how it is supposed to be. And the truth is it is not how it is for many, many people. But it had been her experience and sadly it can happen. So should it be of interest to you or anyone you know, here is my advice. This is my plea.
DO THIS TO HELP FIND THE RIGHT PROFESSIONAL FOR YOU
1. If you ever find yourself meeting someone for the first time, who has the credentials to see you through a journey of healing (mind, body or spirit) then please, please, please, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If you do not feel safe in every way, with them, your journey with them will be a superficial one at best, a waste of time at middle, and further damaging to you at worst.
2. Please vote with your feet, and if you are not comfortable, and don’t feel you can challenge the practitioner (I know this would have been impossible for me when I was post-trauma suffering with depression or anxiety symptoms) just don’t go back again. You don’t need to. It’s about getting YOU the right help match for you. Either you could ask for a different professional from the same organisation to work with or go somewhere completely different.
3. See your first meeting as an interview or audition... and it’s not you on trial; it’s the professional. If they don’t meet the simple and appropriate criteria of making you feel SAFE, HEARD, RESPECTED and UNDERSTOOD, or if anything feels ‘off’ to you, then just be grateful you didn’t go any further down the line with them and move on.
I fully understand that it takes some real emotional energy to do this – much easier to go along with what the ‘professionals’ say. However I think many people don’t realise that they can and SHOULD have a voice and need to OPT IN to working with someone you feel will be a good match for you.
As my conversation continued, I was hoping to hear how this lady’s horrible experience got resolved. It didn’t get better – she just stuck it out. She kept going – attended all 6 of her allocated sessions, “but I didn’t really say very much. It didn’t help me at all really.” After her final session she was sent a feedback form through the post. She dutifully filled it in and sent it back. What did she put? “Oh I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I just ticked good or excellent for everything.” I understand why she did this.
Whilst the improvement of mental health is a massive deal at the moment, so is keeping the standards of the professionals privileged with this work appropriately high.
I never agree to work with anyone, adult or child, until we have had chance to meet and they have a chance to check me out and see how they feel with the journey to get to me and being in the room. We know who we feel safe with. We know when we don’t.
If you don’t feel safe, don’t go back there.
4. Do not assume all counselling experiences are the same. If you have already been through a similarly ineffective experience, and know you are still not OK, then consider trying out some different types of therapy.
Creative Arts therapists are a great choice for people who know there are things in them but not sure how to get the words out.
There is a whole new approach where a therapist works with you to release tension from your body, without you having to talk about what has gone on at all if you don’t want to (TRE).
Thankfully, on the suggestion of a close family member, this precious lady, came to try TRE and is already well on the way to living life better now than she has in years / decades.
You don’t have to stay stuck.
There is healing.
There is HOPE.
There is HELP – when you find the right person and approach for you.
Life starts throwing things at us from when we are small – and we learn to navigate, deal with, overcome or stuff them.
Regardless, they have an impact on us, and so many parents find that ‘parenting’ brings many of these unresolved experiences and tensions to the surface. Being with an anxious parent always has an impact on children.
I am so proud of this Mum who trusted me enough to take me up on my suggestion she try learning TRE.
In just a few sessions she felt and LOOKED so different!
In her own words though…
My journey started with Claire in January 2017.
I’ve always suffered with bouts of anxiety throughout my life,
usually when the stresses of life, illness, loss, family, work, etc, become hard to deal with.
Over a number of weeks I’ve tried to fix everything, everyone and myself when this happens.
But sometimes you can’t! and that’s when I’m in trouble.
So you try to hide it, carry on, and store these feelings.
In the past I have had to go to the doctors.
But this time I met Claire, and decided to try TRE.
I suppose at first I was unsure about it, skeptical, not quite sure whether it would help.
But after 2 sessions I started to understand it and feel the benefits in my own body.
I started to release underlying tension, stress, thoughts, aches and pains, that I’d tucked away for a long time.
My body and my mind feel so much better,
relaxed muscles, neck pain gone, and even foot pain (from Plantar Fasciitis) getting better
and my mind doesn’t worry so much.
I suppose I concentrate more in today rather than what might happen.
I practice TRE at home now 3 times a week, and it does work.
I would like to thank Claire for her time, patience, and helping me heal myself.
We all have these times in our life, TRE helps so much, the natural way.
Thank you x
TRE is a powerful tool being used across the world to help people of all ages release tension from their bodies.
If you would like to find out more you can explore the TRE section on this site and search the TRE blogs in categories on the right hand side. 🙂
During our time here we have just one place to live – our earth suit – our body.
Sometimes we are so busy living, doing or surviving that we can forget or neglect our body, which may mean we are forgetting or neglecting ourselves.
Noticing can be the first step in becoming re-acquainted in the ongoing journey towards becoming truly grateful for our body, and yet even this can be a challenge.
I have worked with very special men and women who were doing brilliant things, yet struggled to notice themselves. For others traumatic experiences have led to years spent living in a state of disassociation from their body. Others have simply appreciated some help in carving out time to be still, refocus and improve noticing themselves.
I wrote and recorded this guided meditation with all these special people in mind – whilst being totally grateful for my own earth-suit : the part of me that I walk around in and be ‘me’ in.
I hope it is truly gift to you.
- GENTLE, yet POWERFUL
- NOTICE you in a new way
- Journey toward GRATITUDE
- Use at the end of TRE or other bodywork sessions
- START or END the day in gratitude
Get FREE MP3 Meditation
‘I am loving the meditation. I started using it daily, morning and evening – now I just do it every day when I get in from work. It has been a great introduction to my new healthy journey.
The meditation has helped me understand how important and amazing my body is and the correlation of mind, body and soul. It gives me a private, quiet, focused time to appreciate what I have and help me achieve what I want to do’
SCHOOL SUPPORT WORKER
Listened to it three times already…
Something really special about this.
Thanks for sending it.
“I listened to Body Gratitude last night (and this morning) and I found it lovely. The words were so well thought out and affirming.
I’ve listened to many meditations, usually as part of my end-of-day ritual and I really liked this one. I think it would be great at the end of a workout or before a creative project, but also a super way to start your day on a positive note. ”
” I was a teacher for 25 years…and you couldn’t be in your body as a teacher…you had to cope. “
A lovely lady said this to me on the last day of the TRE module in London that I was assisting at last week. She had been on a 3 day adventure of mind and body – learning why she had developed so much physical pain (mostly in her back and neck) and what being ‘grounded’ and ‘in her body’ really meant. What it meant from a neuro-physiological perspective and what it meant for her – in her felt experience – in her body!
It is an interesting thought that being ‘not in her body‘ – her way of describing a state of dissociation from her body – had been the only way to cope with the stress of being a teacher for 25 years. Being constantly on alert for what might happen next in the classroom, trying to perform to her best and communicate and connect with the children she worked with each lesson of the day, always trying to climb the never ending slippery slope of admin, and keeping up with the physical, emotional and mental stress of working in a ‘team’ of other adults, some of whom she found really hard to get on with.
The combinations of these stresses had her body in survival mode, and if you can’t fight it or ‘flight’ from it, the only other option is to freeze in it. However, freezing physically was not an option…so she established a default ‘dissociated’ state from which to operate from.
The thing is as we spoke and she described it to me I knew there were so many others who would be in total agreement with her. Life is stressful. Teaching is stressful…and children are better than NASA at detecting adults stress on their subconscious ‘radar’. Faster than a speeding bullet they can become aggressive or avoidant to keep themselves safe…and do aggressive or avoidant children make a teachers life a tad more stressful by any chance??!! The viscous cycle has to be unlocked we agreed… And she had just discovered her proverbial key…in the most gentle and profound way.
What I loved was how open she was to the adventure of allowing her body to tremor and release the deeply held years of tension. She physically looked different even just after 5 sessions, her shoulders were lower, her face was softer and more open, and her eyes more sparkly.
TRE is an amazing tool, and I am just so grateful I discovered it when I did. Being able to use it to calm and ground my own body; turn off my internal stress state and release tension has been a joy for me over the last few years. I think the bigger joy now is sharing it with other people. Who else wants/needs to learn?