Children and Focusing Round Table with Harriet Teeuw
Hosted by The International Focusing Institute, May 31st, 2022
Theme: Exploring Nightmares with Children
The roundtable was attended by 30 participants from across the globe including Ireland, the UK, New Zealand, India, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Hungary, Romania, USA, and Guatemala.
Harriet expertly guided the group through strategies that empower children to “play” with their dreams in a way that allows the children to relate differently to their dreams. Allowing the children to “Love” their dreams by fostering a sense that they are in charge, that this is their dream, and they are the dreamer.
Harriet explained that frequently, the initial response to a dream is that the dream is in charge but resourcing the child to own and play with the dream can change that dynamic. Returning the locus of control to the child – the dreamer.
Her first invitation to the child is to listen to the dream together – sharing the experience and opening it gently for further exploration.
Harriet has many “steps” that allow for this opening, and she shared some of the most important ones with the group. My sense is that some of the most important steps are related to addressing/opening the scary dimension of the nightmare. These steps/questions included.
- What are the nice parts of the dream?
- If you had the power/ability of the scary part – what would that feel like inside?
- Harriet explained that usually nightmares end too soon - they end without a conclusion – so she invited the question “how would the child like the dream to end?”
- Can you draw or express this dream?
- Is there anything you would like to do differently from now on because you understand this dream?
We were then offered two wonderful real-life examples of how Harriet facilitated the nightmares of a 5-year-old and an 11-year-old child. A real sense of her steps/questions coming to life in their experiencing.
This was followed by a gentle and sensitive exercise to work with our own dreams/nightmares – with time to draw what emerged. This drawing decreases the intensity of the nightmare and allows for a gentle relational distance. This provides the space for more to emerge.
Harriet then sensitively accompanied the feedback of several of the participants – providing the space for “more” to emerge. The question/step that seemed to resonate most with those adults was “how would you like the dream to end”. I am curious if the same resonance would be discovered in children.
Overall, it was a most enlightening and positive experience, and offers many possibilities in my ongoing offerings to children. The most positive aspect of this being decreasing the “scariness” of the dream, and in so doing, increasing the possibility of interaction and forward movement.
Thank you, Harriet, – and TIFI’s Children’s Team Rene, Laura and Joke.
by John Keane