Butterflies kill zombies

Go down

default Butterflies kill zombies

Post by anarkandi on Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:02 am


Last week I received a call from one of our senior therapeutic care workers, Merryn Miller. Merryn is a Youth worker you wish you could clone. Intuitively therapeutic, she emanates such a sense of safety that children sit easily with her after a very short time. (Whilst assisting just after the 09 bushfires, a lost injured fawn appeared and trotted straight into her arms! I have no doubt animals and children both can sense a safe adult). Back to the call…

Merryn had been working in a residential care home in country Victoria and told me about a 12 year old boy who was urinating in other rooms other than the toilet during the night. After some exploring it was clear that the boy was terrified of the hallway leading to the toilet, and in fact terrified anywhere during the night.

This is common in children who have experienced serious abuse, both the terror at night, and difficulties with regards to bodily functions. Whilst there are many reasons and contributing factors, inevitably one can assume two things: one is that there is a traumatic trigger; it could be nighttime itself, toilets, the hallway or a million imperceptible possibilities. The other is that when abuse is very early in childhood, its triggers are likely to impair functions regulated by the brain stem and lower mid brain, such as bodily function, sleep, pulse rate, and emotional regulation. Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, a tool well worth becoming familiar with, explains this beautifully.

When Children are triggered, it is necessary to connect, whether literally or symbolically, to a safe person, who can facilitate the traumatised individual back out of the trigger through Safety, Connection, and Control (More on these later). Using a dyadic style, Merryn was able to have a conversation with the boy, and he told her that at night there were ‘zombies’ in the house, and that he was terrified of them. Children will not be able to clearly explain what their fears are, or even relate it to their trauma. In fact they may not be aware at all.

Often terrors and memories are expressed in symbolic ways. And this is the reason why it would not have been therapeutically productive to respond with

“well zombies don’t exist, so there’s nothing to be afraid of”.

This shuts down the therapeutic process, and may result in a feeling of isolation or even abandonment, because symbolically, the zombies are real. They are his terror, and the terror is real, stemming from real events and real threats. Therefore, it is best to use this window of opportunity to facilitate insight, strength and healing for the child.

So when Merryn called to discuss this situation, I knew where she wanted to head. She didn’t just want to prevent the ‘inappropriate peeing behaviour’, but to encourage a healing process that may one day contribute to a normal and healthy life in many aspects. So right now, at the beginning of the healing process, the key was… the Zombies. We discussed and I thought about it, and finally I suggested that we ask him the essential question:

"What kills zombies?"

The next day I received a text message from Merryn after she had another conversation with the boy,

Following the revelation that butterflies kill zombies, Merryn found a picture of a butterfly and gave it to him. He treasured above almost anything else, and indeed, it helped to keep zombies away. In addition, Merryn communicated this with her co-carer, Paul Downing (another clone-able therapeutic carer, known by some kids as 'the Ninja'), So when the boy asked Paul what he thought would kill Zombies, Paul could say, "well Butterflies of course! everyone knows that.." Communication is a vital part of a successful therapeutic milieu, and it creates a sense of care, safety and containment for children living with internal chaos.

Whilst it hasn’t fixed everything, it is these sorts of efforts and interactions by residential carers that are each worth a thousand hours of sessional therapy. It is not psycho-analysis, or traditional ‘counseling’, it is simply caring with mindfulness, listening to what is really being said by children when they are ‘not saying anything’.

Most importantly, it is realizing that carers are the key to the development of safe relational capacity. It is not the butterfly that keeps zombies away, it is the connection to a safe adult that keeps traumatic triggers in check.

A great way to deal with terrors. Smile Symbols hold such importance to us. Perhaps a good way for many hsps to deal with fears.. find symbols of strength, which can help you when you face them?

Posts : 765
Join date : 2012-01-22
Age : 26
Location : Yes please.

View user profile

Back to top Go down

default Re: Butterflies kill zombies

Post by melodiccolor on Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:56 pm

Using imagry to deal....it is an effective way. Great post Anarkandi!

Life is complex.  Parts of it are real and parts of it are imaginary.  (read in a novel by Gregory Benford.)

Absurdity is one of the great joys of life.

All you need for a rich life is to see more.

Posts : 11805
Join date : 2008-04-27
Location : The Land of Seriously Sombrerosy Wonky Stuff

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum