Courage, Bravery and Calm are just a few of Ollie’s superpowers – this is the backstory of how Ollie became a key part of Alison Knowles helping dozens of children to build emotional resilience.
When I was training as a therapist I very nearly quit so many times. Not because I did not understand the concepts or the thinking, but because being dyslexic I really struggled with the written and reading aspects of the course. The long words that described how our brain works and all the different parts of the brain, the overly complicated names of neuro-processing. If it had not been for a very powerful sense that this was something I should be doing and could maybe bring something to, I would not be where I am now.
Somehow I got through my exams – I did not excel in the written aspect but did in the practical, and so life as a therapist began.
I had very preconceived ideas about how I should present myself verbally and otherwise, and I tried to mirror the “professional” therapists that trained me and I admired. It did not fit, it was not me and if I had learnt anything from my training, it was to be comfortable in my own skin. So I decided to use my slightly less academic language and use the metaphors I created to understand my learning in the course in my therapy room. The result was amazing because I realised that most people don’t understand half the words and descriptions that I was struggling with too! So it began, changing and simplifying my language was getting faster results. Well, it would really. I was now speaking a language those that found me spoke.
I began to be asked if I could work with children around behaviour and anxiety issues. I just took my learnt understanding one step further and simplified my approach even more. Eventually it dawned on me, I am not a teacher. I am a therapist and it’s not my role to get a child to understand what I mean by emotional resilience. But it was my job to learn to speak their language and use that to help them create a method of controlling what they feel, which would give them emotional resilience.
So I used metaphors I told stories about a lad called Ollie which allowed me to disassociate the issue from the child. I created a high tech mobile phone to symbolise the conscious mind and a great big library to symbolise the subconscious!
This helped me realise that a child knew what a heart was and a brain, and could draw a version of them but they did not know how to draw an emotion or where emotions might live in their bodies. This was a massive issue because it made emotions not real, and if it’s not real, how do you shape them, grow them, shrink them, and ultimately control them?
So we made the emotions little super powers and this worked really well with the therapeutic model of parts therapy.
And so, Ollie was born.
Word spread about the results we were getting and very soon I could not cope with the number of children that needed help. It was suggested I write a text book on how this works so parents and teachers could access the information themselves.
The thought of a text book just undermined all that is Ollie. So we made Ollie into a story book. Or rather a set of books – using the library and the superpowers to show children what emotional resilience, empathy and self-worth really mean and how to use these amazing super powers.
We are now training other therapists to use the Ollie concept in schools, hospitals, with the police and foster care homes.
Get a sneak peek into the first book in the Ollie series: Ollie and his Superpowers
Keep an eye out for Ollie and the Golden Stripe, out July 21st!