Amy Willshire/ April 28, 2019/ Dramatherapy or Dramatherapist, Lifelong Learning/ 0 comments

‘When words are not enough’ ‘Planting the Alder’

The worst thing about booking a place at the annual conference of the British Association of Dramatherapists is not the cost, with it’s very reasonable members discount, and not the travel to the central UK location, it is the knowledge that there are 54 amazing, inspiring meetings, seminars, workshops, presentations and performances, but that I only have time to attend eight of them.

Some time slots only have two choices and are relatively simple to make- the national meeting or the alternative workshop.

In other slots the choice is hard as 14 different events take place at the same time in different rooms. It is the one training event of the year where all of the options are delivered by professionals who specialise in dramatherapy, all sharing how they have used and developed dramatherapy with their clients. This year, the theme is trauma – an area which profoundly affects many people in different ways.

Hermione’s Time-Turner Necklace

If I could get my hands on Hermione’s Time-Turner Necklace so that I, like Harry Potter’s friend, could attend multiple talks at the same time, I think that would be a very useful thing to pack.

Assuming that no one is going to trust this muggle with such magic before September I have had to narrow down my choices to these; however, if all of my first choices were cancelled I could be just as contented with my second and even many of my third or fourth choices.

(This blog was written at the time of booking. I have since added some comments on my experience of the different workshops and links to the blogs I wrote about those sessions in brackets.)

Keynote: The budding of catkins: a shared experience of healing.

Alder Trees

The conference will explore the Alder Tree in culture, myth and færytale as a metaphor for the bodies response to trauma. We know that the body keeps the score of trauma – it is not just a case of “don’t think like that”, we can know that a car door slamming is not a bomb exploding but our body will still react to protect us. But our bodies also carry our potential for our future steps

“The Alder was, also, said to be sacred to the Greek god Chronos, the God of Time, because it holds the past, present and future – some of their branches can carry the empty cones from last year, the green cones swelling with this year’s seeds, and the starts of next year’s catkins.”

BADth programme 2019.

(A really inspiring collaborative keynote bringing together many different aspects of the Alder within mythology to help understand trauma. Read more in my blog here)

Performance: How it feels to remember

This performance by Erica Hedges (dramatherapist) and Daniella Budd (dance movement psychoptherapist) will explore the social and mental health of teenagers and:

how the body stores adverse memories and how without a language to express oneself behaviour becomes the main form of communication

(One of my conference highlights this year. I particularly loved the way they considered the link between development and movement. Read more in my blog here)

Emotional first aid, Trauma tapping

Liz Merrick explores tapping as a way to self regulate the bodies emotions

The Trauma Tapping Technique takes 10 minutes to do and is helpful in calming emotional responses to stress and traumatic experiences

I have been to a few online training talks recently which have talked about using the bodies own healing mechanisms to regulate after trauma so I am interested in how this technique can add to that practice.

(This was a really informative session. Find out more about how to use TTT in my blog here)

Resistance and resilience in the adoptive story: ‘you had to let me go’

A real life reflection of adoption from an adoptive mother and a now adult adopted child, interwoven with Brecht‘s Caucasian Chalk Circle and poet Lemm Sissay picking up themes of abandonment and belonging.

Scene from Caucasian Chalk Circle

Its metaphors provide an aesthetic space for a conversation on the themes of resistance and resilience, which are at the heart of the adoption relationship.

This talk is delivered by one of my tutors, Professor Anna Seymour who I know interweaves the personal, the performed and the profound in a way that is accessible and moving.

This is paired with a second talk

Working Empathically with Unspoken Trauma in Adoptive Families – An Adopter’s Perspective

Catherine Lake will explore

the unique complexities found in adoption that are often unknown to professionals because of their invisible and unspoken nature. Adoptee poetry and three metaphorical stories based on lived experience and research into trauma within adoptive families will creatively highlight the level and complexity of trauma that can present at the point of engagement

I am interested in systemic therapy; working with families. Sometimes a therapist is viewed as a substitute mother / father, someone who through relationship in therapy can offer the good enough holding which the client may have missed out on from their own families; there is a place for this in therapy but where there is an opportunity for therapy to have a transformative impact on real families I believe this is a better focus. I am also really interested to hear about how dramatherapists are offering post adoption support to the whole family.

(Read my blog about this inspiring talk here.)

‘That Good May Become’: A Goethean ‘Nature’ Approach To Working With Psychological, Ritual, Sexual And Spiritual Abuse And Recovery In Dramatherapy

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Dr Bruce Howard Bayley‘s experiential presentation

focuses on my development of the application of some aspects of the work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to Dramatherapy in facilitating recovery from and healing of traumas resulting from spiritual, sexual and ritual abuses.

This includes using plants for transformation and engaging with the elements of earth, air, fire and water. As I am involved in offering nature based retreats and walking therapy, I am interested in how this work can enhance the therapeutic experience.

Stepping In

Jaletta de Jager invites us to interact with her school set installation to consider how the teacher’s instruction’s are recieved by developing minds.

This installation looks to: 1) highlight the resilience of our young clients; 2) consider schools as a venue for therapeutic intervention; and 3) offer an embodied experience.

As I read her description I recalled that one of my first teachers at a childhood parents evening described me as having a “wee butterfly mind” as I was often distracted by what was outside the window or my own imagination. I know that for some children, the size and number of things they have to process or worry about can make engaging in school very difficult.

‘Hide And Seek’ – Self-Discovery Through Masks


Dolmen Domikles will explore how early traumatic experiences can affect our development and prevent us from realising our potential.

Masks are often thought about in the West as concealing or deceiving. However, in other traditions, being in a mask is a way of revealing an energy or archetype. The ‘Hide and Seek’ method enables the participant to access that archetype, characteristic or experience which needs to express itself. 

This will be the second mask workshop I have attended led by Dolmen and I am really interested to see how he links it with trauma.

In am already excited and it is still quite a number of months away

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