The healing power of Yoga: A kids’ perspective

When we shift from focusing on “fixing” the child to “connecting” with the child, we create a safe space that allows them to discover skills that support healing.

The yoga experience allows us to connect through presence, excitement and mindful care, all the while creating the space for children’s own bodies and minds to do the amazing things they were made to do.

When children have been abused, their bodies shut down in a completely different way. Child sexual abuse indicators can include:

  • Sudden sensual fear, panic or reluctancy to be alone with certain persons
  • Sudden fear of places or locations
  • Regressive behaviors
  • Compulsive lying or stealing
  • Unexplained evidence of physical trauma to genitals
  • Not sleeping/nightmares

Yoga can help children get back into their bodies without being afraid. There are many techniques we can use when children have gone through trauma:

Keep it simple – Demonstrate first and find the simplest variation of the pose for them to start from. Be sensitive to the children’s needs. Allow them to relax whenever they need to and make the class short enough for them to be able to keep their attention focused without tiring.

Breath – Help them to breathe more deeply and learn how to control and be aware of their breath through a variety of breathing exercises.

Success builds success – Always focus on the children’s strengths, as a weakness in one area often creates strength in another. If we start where it is easy for that child, they will gain confidence and slowly respond to more challenging areas. We never begin by attempting to work on the ‘issue’ first.

Sometimes I give squishy balls to children with special needs to keep squeezing while they are lying down. This helps them to keep the rest of their body still. Heavy blankets also work well.

Sensory bags are great for autistic children or even for shy children. They feel safe inside, and the contact from all sides is very comforting.

When working with children who have been abused in some way, we must make the space inviting and not scary for them. We allow them be their own guide in the class and invite them to do the poses they feel comfortable with. There is no touch/adjusting in class. If the child wants to lay down the whole time, that is fine, as that is what their body is telling them to do. Yoga is an invitation for the body and the mind. We need to hold space for children who have undergone a trauma, and in class, that is what we can do.

*All information is from the Teaching Rainbow Kids Yoga Training Manual.

The importance of self-care

CASASC is your safe place. No matter where you are in your healing journey, we are here to support you along the way. Our goal – to empower you on your journey towards healing.

Self-care is an important part of the healing process and can help make the impacts of trauma more manageable. According to Raphailia Michael “self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.”

In this, we would like to introduce a new series – #Theimportanceofselfcare

Over the next month, we will be featuring a daily self-care tip on our social media channels. This is to support all our journeys toward healing.

NEW group – Intro to mentalization

Join us for this psycho-educational group that offers an introduction to mentalization.

This mentalization-based group is designed for individuals that come from broken attachments, are in unhealthy peer attachments and have a history of trauma, sexual abuse and a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) is a specific type of psychotherapy designed to help people with BPD. Its focus is helping people to differentiate and separate out their own thoughts and feelings from those around them.

 

What are the aims of MBT?

-MBT aims to improve a person’s ability to mentalize in close relationships.

-Having improved mentalizing ability means:

-Experiencing a more stable sense of who you feel you are

-Being less likely to let emotions get the better of you

-When emotions do get the better of you, you are able to regain your composure more quickly

This should mean that you become stronger emotionally, engage in harmful behaviours less, are less likely to get into interpersonal conflicts, and are better able to deal with any conflicts that do arise.

 

How does MBT help you improve your mentalizing?

To be good at something, you need to practice it. In the MBT program, participants can practice mentalizing skills together with the therapist and other group members.

 

How is MBT structured?

The MBT program consists of:

  1. Mentalization-based problem formulation
  2. Crisis plans
  3. Psychoeducational group therapy: 12 weekly sessions, each 1.5 hours-long
  4. Individual therapy: once a week for around 18 months
  5. Group therapy: weekly sessions of 1.5 hours for around 18 months
  6. Possible addition of art therapy
  7. Appointment(s) with psychiatrist for relevant prescriptions if needed
  8. Collaboration with other agencies on work-related support

 

What does the therapist do in MBT?

MBT therapists may provide advice directly, but they mainly try to think and reflect with you about problems to help you gradually develop your own solutions. This means taking on a curious and ‘not-knowing’ attitude about yourself and others – other patients in the group and people in your everyday life – particularly about experiences, thoughts and feelings.

 

What does the patient do in MBT?

-To make good use of treatment, patients are encouraged to:

-Talk about events from their own lives, especially recent events that have been stressful

-Try to understand more about these events, using a curious, open and ‘not-knowing’ attitude

-Allow other group members to take part in this process by exploring their own problems and other people’s problems in the same way

-Work with the therapist and the other group members in the same way, to understand events that happen within the group

-Try to develop a constructive relationship with the group members and the therapist

As part of the program, patients are encouraged not to have contact between each other outside of the therapy sessions. If they do so, they should try to talk about these contacts in the therapy sessions.

 

What else do I need to know?

The individual and group therapists meet regularly and discuss how therapy is going.

The group therapist does not usually mention in the group anything he or she has discussed with patients in individual sessions. You, the patient, get to choose what you want to talk about, and when.

However, sometimes the group therapist can address specific serious topics directly, even if the patient does not want to talk about them. For instance, these may relate to violence or threats, serious breaches of the treatment contract, or suicide attempts.

 

The group is facilitated by Michelle Moger and CASASC therapists.

Find out more info and/or to reserve your spot email casasc@casasc.ca or call 403-340-1124.

NEW parenting group

Join us for Rest, Play, Grow – a book discussion group starting on Jan. 14. at 6 p.m.

Rest, Play, Grow is grounded in the integrated, attachment-based and developmental approach to making sense of kids created by Gordon Neufeld.

Participants will read two chapters of Rest, Play, Grow by Debra Macnamara during the week and then come together to share insights, questions, and experiences. In case a participant is not able to do the reading, there will be a review of the material at the beginning of each meeting.

 

Rest, Play, Grow: Making Sense of Preschoolers (Or Anyone Who Acts Like One)

Based on the work of one of the world’s foremost child development experts, Rest, Play, Grow offers a road map to making sense of young children, and is what every toddler, preschooler, and kindergartner wishes we understood about them. Baffling and beloved, with the capacity to go from joy to frustration in seconds, young children are some of the most misunderstood people on the planet.

 

Chapters (topics covered):

-How Adults Grow Young Children up

-The Preschooler Personality: Part beauty, part beast

-Preserving Play: Defending childhood in a digital world

-Hungry for Connection: Why relationship matters

-Who’s in Charge? The dance of attachment

-Feelings and Hurts: Keeping children’s hearts soft

-Tears and Tantrums: Understanding frustration and aggression

-Alarmed by Disconnection: Bedtime, separation, and anxiety

-“You’re Not the Boss of Me”: Understanding resistance and opposition

-Discipline for the Immature: Buying time for the child to grow up

-How Young Children Grow Adults Up

 

Discussions are facilitated by Michelle Moger and CASASC therapists.

Rest, Play, Grow runs for 6 weeks.

Find out more info and/or to reserve your spot email casasc@casasc.ca or call 403-340-1124.

You have the right

You have the right to be yourself.

You have the right to take all the time you need to heal.

You have the right to love and be loved again.

You have the right to say no but you also have the right to say yes.

Take a deep breath and remember to live.

Healing is important but so is getting to where you can enjoy life again.

Find your inner child and nature it.

 

-Unknown, A Survivor

Be patient with healing

Through my experience with sexual assault I have found an inner strength that I have never knew existed.

With determination I refused to be the victim and pull the blankets over my head and hide.

Being sexually abused is not my fault.

Be patient with the healing, if taking it day-to-day is overwhelming, take it hour-to-hour

Only a crayon

I only have a crayon to write with but here is what I want to say…

I am brave

I am beautiful

I am smart

I am strong

I will never give up and I will overcome any obstacle standing in my way.

How the Crisis Centre helped me

From my perspective, this place has been a literal life-saving source of support, and a safe place to come when I was in desperate need of someone to talk to. It has been a place where I could consistently meet with one staff member, and establish a very meaningful and trusting relationship to help me work through the devastating experiences I have been through.

The Crisis Centre has offered crucial services not only to me, but to many others in need of its specialized services for victims of sexual assault. The help and amazing support I have received, I have become a much different and stronger person today then I was when I first walked through its doors. I truly believe the healing I have accomplished has only been possible because of what the Crisis Centre has offered to me. And I cannot emphasize enough how much this place, its services, and its staff have meant to me in my own personal journey of recovery.

I know that I am not alone. Sadly, there are many, many other victims out there who have needed and will continue to need the Crisis Centre. These victims and their families need this service. I believe it’s vital that they continue to have access to a service that provides such essential support through the trauma and healing process. I have found the help I have received to be compassionate, non-judgmental, and of utmost quality. And l feel that others deserve the same level of caring support that I have received. I hope to see the Crisis Centre operating for many years to come, because I know that its services will continue to be needed, and it would be a terrible loss for victims and the community to no longer have this place to turn to.

For myself, I imagine a much worse outcome, if I had not been able come here, and slowly work through what had happened to me. Some very serious and possibly tragic repercussions could easily have occurred. But instead I am here today voicing my belief in how essential it is for the Crisis Centre to remain open and available for victims of sexual assault. I believe it fulfills a very real need in the community, and that others deserve to have the same service that I have received when they need it most. It makes a difference. For me it has made a huge difference. I’m a single mother, who is now a successful nursing student, a happier person than l once was, and hopefully a better mother to my children. The Crisis Centre has played a role in that, by helping me through some really horrible experiences, and offering so much support and encouragement, as well as validation! Because of that l am where I am today. I’m incredibly grateful, and l wish to do whatever I can to ensure that these services are available to others. One day when I am finished school, I hope to offer financial support as well, because I truly believe in what the Crisis Centre stands for and what it offers to those seeking its services.

You Can’t Hurt Me

The controller, power-seeker and deceptions so profound.
I was lured, innocence lost and replace with pain.
Now miles from that darkness, strong and undefeated I stand.
The power you – thoughts you had is now mine to claim.
Never truly belonging to you, only your fantasy.
You’re thought to be a predator, a lion.
Yes as much a predator as the house cat I own
Seen as the weak one, a lamb just to be morphed I am strong and free.
But not steal nor rock, unfeeling, cold and alone.
With amazing strength, yet gentle and steady, like that of the wind.
As I look down at you, in your valley so small, such a weakling, upon this hill
I stand strong and unharmed, I know that I win.
Malicious mind, and evil intentions, but you can’t hurt me now
Everything stolen has now been returned.
And then some.
It kills you how you can try, but you can’t hurt me now.
Here I stay living, loving, and singing a beautiful tune.