Reflections on Day 1 of the 2018 International Childhood Trauma Conference

This blog entry was authored by Angela Weller,
General Manager Therapeutic Services at the Australian Childhood Foundation
whilst attending the 2018 International Childhood Trauma Conference.


This blog is the first in a series of daily blogs being published during the 2018 International Childhood Trauma Conference. Each day a member of the Australian Childhood Foundation’s Senior Executive will share their reflections on the content in sessions they attended. Today’s blog is written by Angela Weller.

‘Children don’t even know they are learning to be mindful because they are playing and having fun.’
This is the quote from yesterday’s masterclass with Bonnie Goldstein and Pat Ogden that remains sitting with me today.
As we gather as adults who engage with children in their experiences of both fun and play and of hurt, trauma and sadness I continue to hold the centrality of children in mind. It is easy, and important, to continue to reflect on our learning and analysis at an event such as this conference but what I am continually reminded of is to link those reflections to the children we work with and the power of their own experiences and their own capacity. We need to keep holding the child at the centre of our discussions, our reflections and our learning.

At the masterclass yesterday Bonnie and Pat gave us an opportunity to delve into the sensitivity, respect and resonance we need to use in our work in a heartfelt way in children’s lives. Children feel successful by being given tasks they can accomplish through fun and in safety.

This was a theme that I think resonated through each of the masterclasses and was mirrored in the discussions being had and being heard throughout the day.

Acknowledging, engaging with and privileging the unique world of each child’s story must be something we carry with us all the time – even when holding that uniqueness can be challenging. Theories give us some frameworks for understanding and responding but we need to always value the child’s individual strengths, skills, hopes, feelings, vulnerabilities and physical presence as the primary source of knowledge. Holding that unique lens was something that Bonnie and Pat reinforced in their session.

This means to me that we focus our connection with the child in the child’s ‘language’. We play, we have fun and we meet the child at what they need. I am always conscious that we say we do this but it is a genuine practice challenge to acknowledge and work with the complexity of each child’s presentation and bring a genuine curiosity to our relationships and interactions.

This is what I will continue to carry with me through the week and through my work and I look forward to adding further perspectives to our collective valuing of children.