Talking with children about Corona – and thoughts about AF-EMDR at this time…

First, a note from Miriam Chachamu about her excellent family-focused videos, including now on how to talk with children about Corona.
I am a family therapist, a relatively new and a bit silent member of this forum…
During the last year I have been developing a YouTube channel for parents, helping them understand their children and communicate better with them, to hopefully reduce attachment wounds for the future.
If you  have time, please have a look! My last two videos are about talking to children about the virus and dealing with school closures, and my video about couples in self-isolation is scheduled for tomorrow.
If you like what you hear please subscribe and press the bell so you will hear from YouTube about new videos- usually every week or two

And to continue, my (Mark Brayne’s) response!

What wonderful videos, Miriam – and with a message shared with everyone on the AF-EMDR group today, a couple of additional and hopefully helpful thoughts as, together with our clients, we work with the impact of corona on all our lives.
And wow – I covered the end of the Cold War, the Romanian revolution, Tiananmen Square (well, leaving Beijing before the tanks went in), Russia/Soviet Union under Brezhnev and lived in both East and walled-off West Berlin, and I’ve rather obviously never seen anything like this one.

Indeed, I’m suggesting that in terms of planetary impact, this (with human-induced climate change) is up there with the meteorite that killed off the dinosaurs, almost overnight. BIG stuff, so no therapeutic pressure there.
But as I was saying, a couple of observations:
  • I was really struck by Lucinda’s (Gordon Lennox) observation on this thread yesterday how those clients who’ve been able to work with their deepest childhood trauma and attachment issues are the ones who seem to be coping best with what’s happening now. Absolutely my experience also these past days, with some amazing resilience from folk of whom, when they began therapy, you never would have expected it.
  • So, a reminder therefore of the power of working with attachment-informed case conceptualisation and targeting in therapy, and once again, thanks Laurel for highlighting that.
  • Second, (ok, third bullet point), Corona is a reminder to me of emphasising with our clients, and in our own appreciation of their story, the difference between what I call a Level One target (the nasty thing that happened, e.g. sexual abuse, car crash, nasty virus, traumatic bereavement) and the Level Two attachment-informed traumatic meaning that the client made of that experience.
  • So, Corona is an issue worthy of course of targeting/resourcing with EMDR. But it’s important too with clients to differentiate out what’s their stuff, childhood-attachment-trauma-informed, and what’s, as it were, legit.
  • I’m finding, working online of course only at the moment, that clients are finding this seriously useful, allowing us to continue working with the childhood stuff as a way of resourcing/clearing them rather better and more healthily to face the present.
  • Another thought coming out of some fascinating supervision this week (thanks Mic and others) is that in therapy, as therapists, we need primarily to relate to the ADULT in our client, rather than directly with the CHILD. It’s our job in AF-EMDR therapy to resource the ADULT to soothe the child ego state, in a way that the biological parents couldn’t do all those years ago.
  • So in a sense, we go into our clients’ stories as partners to the adult client on their journey through their past and their story. We need so to be careful not to become the external source of primary soothing for the distressed child ego state, as that leaves the adult client out of the equation. And it’s their frontal cortex that needs, at last, to be brought to bear. Corona is a perfect opportunity to tease out the distinctions.
  • Also, an insight from this month about fathers. Their role, I sense, being of course one myself, in a client’s childhood was primarily to render the mother available and safe to nurture and soothe the child in the way he/she needed. The father-related target therefore in AF-EMDR can often be less the client’s personal childhood experience of father (a level one target), and more the dysfunctional impact of said father‘s own trauma on the mothering the client experienced. A topic at least for discussion, and please do chip in.
Finally, out of bullet point territory, very exciting news about the EMDR Focus website, with blog. The amazing Rosie Arnfield has redesigned it for us and the new site is going live this weekend. (It may not be quite ready if you go there today, Friday, but it will be by Sunday…)
I’m completely thrilled with how good it looks and how well it works, and hope that in this time of Corona it might become a useful and more widely-used resource.
Enough. Do share your experiences of how you’re bringing Laurel’s attachment focus to bear on your EMDR online and (anyone still doing it?) in person at this extraordinary time for our planet. What a time to be alive.
As ever, all bilateral best.

Mark Brayne
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Cyclist, therapist, singer, former foreign correspondent and climate change aware...


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