Moving and Soothing – Body based programs for children

This blog post is written by Pauline Lodge, Manager – Professional Education Services at The Australian Childhood Foundation.

Recently, Joe Tucci wrote a series of blogs exploring the concept of ‘safety” and what occurs for children when that safety has been violated. He identified three principles for understanding safety in our work with traumatised children and young people at the Australian Childhood Foundation.

These were:

  • Safety is a relational experience
  • Safety is embedded in our physiology
  • Child abuse is a deep violation of a child’s sense of safety.


Over recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that the impact that trauma can be held in our bodies, our physiology, our posture. It affects the way we hold ourselves and move.

Peter Levine suggests ‘trauma is not and will not and can not ever be fully healed until we also address the essential role played by the body’.

Similarly, Bessel van der Kolk has written that ‘…the body speaks clearly to those who know how to listen. Nonverbal expressions visibly reveal what words cannot describe: the ‘speechless terror”.

We have been running body based group therapy programs with children who have experienced trauma for over ten years now. Children love it. They engage in movement in ways that give their bodies a chance to breathe and find their own life again. And, they do not need to talk. They can if they want to, but they don’t have to. And in that small micro experience, they begin to experience control over what their bodies do and do not have to do.

We have been asked a lot about our movement groups – so we decided to bring it to you and offer it in our training activities.

In our brand new Moving and Soothing Workshop, we review the theory underpinning the three how the body achieves states of safety and transformation, using the work of Steve Porges and Polyvagal theory. In particular, we focus on his concept of neuroception of safety. If you come to it, you will learn three important insights:

Insight 1.          There are core elements of anybody based program that promotes ways for movement to offer children the opportunity to rediscover a sense of safety in their bodies.

Insight 2.          Sequencing of activities is fundamental for body based programs to work with children and young people who have experienced trauma.

Insight 3.          Relationships which emerge during body based activities offer another layer of meaning making which is critical in the change process for children.

The Moving and Soothing Workshop is experiential, practical and fun. It provides participants with the opportunity to explore a variety of different techniques, strategies, and activities for engaging children in body based interventions. Participants will be up and moving from the start of learning the movement sequences that can make a real difference.

Click here to find out when there’s one near you!