Teaching Generative Principles to Children – Jorg Dierkes

Jörg Dierkes is a psychotherapist from Germany. He specialised in Generative Trance developed by Steve Gilligan and the hypnosystemic approach created by Gunther Schmidt who also learned from Erickson. He is a German Regional Representative for IAGC Germany.

What I really like about the generative and hypnosystemic trance work is that you can apply it in so many different fields: I have worked with athletes (training professional soccer players), health care (teaching people to stay healthy), clinical settings (with depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms etc) and with children (in a children’s hospital and elementary schools).

I want to share my experience of working with children to give you an idea of one way of using the generative model with kids.

We conducted a scientific research study in an elementary school using a programme with one hour per week over eight weeks.

Each group consisted of 5-10 children. At the beginning of each session we went through the “3 Principles” of our sessions which were:

1) We want to have fun together
2) We give our own best – it is not about being the best student.
3) We support and help each other.

It was interesting to see that for some children Principle 2 was especially important: they felt under pressure to be the “best student” to meet the high expectations of their parents and teachers, making them extremely tense and fearful. Once they realised that we think in this generative setting, they were able to relax more.

And that brings me to another central idea of this generative group training: learning how to relax in many different ways! Steve sometimes calls himself “Dr Relaxation” and points out how important the ability to relax is if you want more creativity, healing and happiness in your life.

One simple exercise we used with the children is what I call “The 4 Steps of self-calming”. I introduce it like this:

“Okay children, let us pretend we are very anxious or stressed right now … show me very vividly how you look and take that posture (somatic modelling of a “Crash” state).

How do you feel now? How do you breathe? Now let us do the following:
1. Relax your shoulders and body
1) Take a deep breath
2) Hands on your belly and again a deep breath (centering)
3) Imagine something nice like eating ice cream (accessing resources)

How do you feel now?”

We repeat this exercise in many ways so they learn to guide themselves from Crash to Coach state. Some children reported using this method before a test calming themselves in the classroom. One kid used it at the dentist calming himself during the painful

In the study we found promising results: the children who did the training compared with the kids who did not receive it (waiting list control group) showed higher scores in the scales of self-calming, fearless goal orientation, coping with failure, social integration and lower scores in feeling stress and threatened, conflicts at home, emotional instability.

Even though it was a small study (about 40 children) it supports all the ideas of generative trance work and mainly the idea:

“You`re only as good as your state and the state you can train”

And it was really fun working with the kids since all the exercises have to be presented in a joyful and playful way.

Jörg Dierkes has a psychotherapy office in Osnabrück, Germany. dierkesjoerg@googlemail.com

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