It was more than ten years ago since we were the last time in Hungary, the country into which many East-Germans liked to travel before 1989, and by that time mere permitted to travel. When we heard, that 100 kilometers north of Budapest, in Salgótárjan the first international conference "Focusing with Children" would take place, there was no question - we had to be present there. A little belly itching in the outlook of the journey showed us that we were very tense, whether the other 70 children-therapists from 11 countries of the world would practice focusing with children similar to us. In our practical working with children and juveniles we had tried to stimulate focusing-processes autodidactically and had gathered experiences with it in the past years. At the conference we now had plenty of possibilities to exchange experiences in the large working groups, the smaller study-groups and still smaller self-reflection groups. To engage in the inner world of children, their wisdom, our own experience in the child-role and the difficulties as a therapist to connect oneself to the person of the child, was extraordinary stimulating. Impressive: the video shown in the large group, in which Gloria Bruinix accompanied focusing the little girl Jacky. As unproblematic as the 8 years old Jacky accepted the invitation of the therapist, to let speak her body, accepted and benefited from them, the children impersonated by us in the role play in the study group were not. But that could depend upon the fact, that we choose children from our practical work, who were amongst the most difficult of our clients. The role-plays were a wonderful experience: stand-alone the permission to be totally as a child was marvelous. To notice how it feels as a child, when the therapist is following some purpose of his own, was an impressive-disappointing experience. As ever with focusing, attendant and group were relieved, when all of a sudden the child felt understood and thus the way for new experiences became clear. An important subject unfortunately was only broached briefly and in our opinion could not be dealt with in such a short time: the birth trauma. We agreed in the study group, that one day is amply sufficient to treat such a profound experience.
A great number of suggestions was made to the question, how do I start when I want to focus with a child. Children have an easy access to body-feelings and the whole can be stimulated by letting the child rubbing the hands together ("how does it feel with you?") or suggest to guess outside and inside sounds with closed eyes, or imagine the taste of a lemon.
Continuing steps often occur with children when drawing or playing
something previously sensed with the puppet-theatre. There are a number of children as
well, who shake the head and prefer to express themselves in movement. To that a spacey
room and some stimulating sports equipment would be needed, It generally is an advantage
in children therapy if an attendant can join in on all mind levels. The level of hearing
The most important for the chance of a healing process in a structure-bound child is, that the attendant is present in an accepting way. Should aggressions against the attendant be accepted as well? In a role-play an attendant spontaneously drew a line against physical violation - and the "child" sensed this act of protection as right and safety giving. Such sensed experiences cannot be submitted by a presentation, as a grown-up attendant one must place oneself another time in the Child-role to understand physically. Marta Stapert from the Netherlands already had the idea of organizing a special congress exclusively for the particularities with children in 1996.
In cooperation with four Hungarian universities (Szeged, Deprecen, Pec and Budapest in which focusing is taught explicitly!) fir. and firs. Stapert performed enormous organization work to set an all-round successful conference on foot. There was English, Dutch, Russian and Hungarian spoken and interpreted. We, as two East-Germans as the only representatives of Germany were pleased that we could use since many years our knowledge of Russian in conversations with an Ukrainian and a Czech lady, and we recalls a few words of Hungarian as well from our memory. The fantastic hospitality of the Hungarians had not changed in no way and the Hungarian temper of our hosts could be enjoyed at a dancing event in the evening (at the end all danced Csardas) and in the wine cellar of the nearby city of Egér. The fine Hungarian wine ever developed its fast and full effect and resulted together with the gypsy music in a festive mood with all participants.
Actually there should be no question about a second conference on "Focusing with Children" to take place. It is, however, open who would feel capable to do the enormous organizationwork and would succeed in making possible the participation financially as moderate as it was in the first time. It would be too bad if the Hungarian hosts could not afford themselves participation.
A workshop Focusing with Juveniles" can be visited in Germany as well during the first "Märkische Tage der Psychotherapie" (Psychotherapy Days at the march of Brandenburg) from 1-5 September 1999 at Luckenwalde (South of Berlin) or at a continuation of the Federal Conference for Child Guidance.
Information can be asked for from Sabine or Ulrike,