Haydon School have a very interesting concept in that they have a group of handpicked children known for having caring qualities to be SOS Peer Mentors. The children run open clinics during break and lunch times for students to tell them their worries, share problems, seek advice and so on.
The session began with sharing lunch with the students and that gave us an opportunity to discuss what kind of problems they have to deal with. The students mentioned some obvious problems like relationships with other children, stress over homework and exams but the Peer Mentors also told us of much more far reaching problems like being pregnant as a teenager and trying to decide if they should tell the father and even if they should keep the baby.
The training session began with an explanation of Emotional Energy which we likened to having a can of fizzy drink inside you ready to burst at any time. The students could relate to the analogy and we could see several nods as we explained how that pressure can overwhelm into shouting, anger, tantrums and so on. We did a demonstration on ourselves first, Kim helping Louise with something going on recently for her to show them how the process works. We split them into groups of 3 and had 1 as a facilitator, 1 as the energy mover and 1 as an observer.
What we observed was very interesting. The girls seemed to find it the most difficult at first as they were self conscious and giggly about talking about feelings. Some of the girls had a shield up to the process to begin with. The boys however really took to the process and had no problem with the facilitation or moving energy. One lad had such a silky tone to his voice and was a complete natural at helping others with their emotional pain. He is doing ‘A’ level Psychology next year and was eager to learn more about the technique as he could see how it would assist him in learning about human behaviour.
The students picked various topics to work on from relationships with siblings to exam stress. One lad explained how he gets so anxious during tests and exams that his stomach and throat tightens and he cannot eat even a piece of toast or biscuit. It was such a relief to him to understand that this was a build of energy and he could release this with ease. Another girl noticed how the energy had moved to her head but was now giving her a head ache. A little bit more softening and the headache soon lifted leaving her amazed at the result.
The Q & A after was very lively. All students wanted to know and understand more. The school has said that the students that are interested in taking it further can be trained to Practitioner level giving them a qualification to take into their adult life.
After the workshop we did a free demonstration to 18 teachers who all acknowledged feeling overwhelmed, over burdened and stressed. All could feel pressure in their body. We did a group identification of the pressure and then a 1-1 with 1 teacher for the group to see. We are looking at the possibility of teaching EMO in 3 two hour sessions to some of the teachers at Haydon School.
Below is the Peer Mentor Coordinators assessment of the workshop written in an article that was sent out to teachers in their in house news bulletin.
SOS Peer Mentors and 'Emotional Transformation'
Year 10 and 11 SOS Peer Mentors recently successfully completed level 1 of the 'Emotional Transformation' technique. The SOS group learnt the technique principally to help them in their role as mentors, as part of their professional development, but also on a personal level, to use it as a self-help tool. Emotional Transformation is a simple visualisation technique which helps release built up emotions or energy, it effectively 'transforms' these feelings from something negative to a positive. The technique can be used for school stress about homework, work-load, tests, exams and feeling overwhelmed or overburdened in general. It is particularly effective when used in a mentoring setting. For example, students who come to the mentors for support, do not even need to say what the problem is. They simply need to focus on where in their body they feel the 'disturbance' when they think of the situation. The Peer Mentors they guide them through a visualisation to help them release the energy feelings associated.
In the training session the Peer Mentors practised on each other and the trainers, Kim Bradley and Louise Bliss, were very impressed by how well the students used the technique. They were also very impressed by their dedication and commitment.
The Peer Mentors enjoyed level 1 so much they have all asked to become fully-fledged practitioners in the technique. We will be starting level 2 shortly.
A special thanks to the trainers who also conducted a free taster workshop for staff, who really enjoyed learning the basics of the technique.