Listening activities to promote cognitive flexibility and communication

Reader Emily Clifton sent in this very useful assortment of interventions. Ms. Clifton earned a gift certificate to childtherapytoys.com for her submission. Learn how you can do the same!

Game: Puppets

Ideal for: group or in family sessions

Instructions: In this game you assign one group the role of puppet, and another group serves as the puppet masters. You will have the group act out a situation. The puppets are doing the actions, but each have a puppet master that will be their voices, so the puppets’ actions have to be guided by what the puppet masters are having them say.

 

Game: Sculpting

Ideal for: group or family session, must be done in pairs

Need: Play-Doh, Legos or another building material

Instructions: The therapist gives each member equal amounts/sizes of play-doh or Legos. The therapist has one person make a sculpture that the other person cannot see. Then they have the builder describe to the other person how to recreate their sculpture. At the end they compare to see if their sculptures are the same. Then you have the participants switch roles. The therapist should ask questions such as: What was difficult about being a listener? What was difficult about instructing others?

 

Game: One-Liners

Ideal for: group or family session

Instructions: The therapist chooses three people to create a scene. Two people are given one generic line. Throughout the scene, they can only say this line. The other person may say whatever they want. You give the participants a general character and scene, such as: two customers and an employee at McDonald’s. During the scene, you can say freeze to help characters that are stuck. Afterwards, you can talk to members about how it felt to have their control limited or to be the one in charge of moving the scene forward, etc.

 

Game: Storytelling

Ideal for: individual, group or family sessions

Need: Deck of Apples to Apples cards, In a Pickle Cards, Story Cubes or other cards with nouns on them,

Instructions: Each person during their turn chooses a card at random. They must use the noun on this card to start, continue, or end a story. They must not negate anything the person before them has said. In a larger group, it is also good to include the parameters around the story getting violent or lewd.

 

Game: 5-2-1

Ideal for: group or family in sets of two or three

Instructions: Group people into twos or threes. Ask each of them to think of a story concerning something that has happened to them that is about five minutes long. Then you assign each person in the group a role: listener or teller (and if there’s a third person–observer). The Teller will have five minutes to tell their story. During this time, the listener can’t talk, but has to show they are actively listening to the story. After the five minutes, the listener has two minutes to summarize the story they just heard, and the teller has to show active listening skills. Then, during the last minute, the teller has to summarize the listener’s summary. Afterwards, the facilitator can ask questions such as: How did you know the listener was listening? How was it to listen without being able to talk? How did you show you were a good listener? How was it to tell a story without being interrupted? What was it like to be an observer and what did you notice? Then each person can take turns taking on the different roles in rotation.

 

Communication/Feeling Identification Activity:

Ideal for: clients needing to identify different cues regarding how people are feeling or the environment around them.

Need: Pictures from magazine or photos of people interacting with one another in natural settings: library, trick-or-treating, cooking dinner, etc.

Instructions: Show kid(s) one picture at a time. You can ask them to identify the who, what, why, when and how of the picture, asking them to point out which contact clue led them to know something about the people in the picture. For example: drinking orange juice could signal breakfast time, or the color of leaves on a tree could signal season. You can also ask about what emotion each person is feeling and how you know this from their body language, facial expression, proximity to one another, etc.

Creating Labyrinths In The Sand

Here’s another great intervention idea submitted by reader Martha Nodar. Ms. Nodar earned a gift certificate to childtherapytoys.com for her submission. Learn how you can do the same!

A respite to a world saturated in technology, the labyrinth offers a chance to literally stop and listen to one’s inner voice. Whether walking the labyrinth, building one in the sand, or drawing it in a piece of paper, the action requires concentration on the task at hand, which may be a welcome relief. Labyrinth scholars suggest we begin walking or building a labyrinth with the intention of gaining self-knowledge, but not to expect an answer. Rather than begin the journey with an expectation, they encourage us to embrace and honor the entire experience. Based on the idea that most, if not all children enjoy connecting the dots, the activity featured above lends itself to tapping into a child’s creative imagination. Chances are they may want to engage in the activity again and again. It is after all by accessing the Creative Self, that we find our coping skills to a hurried world. Life is a maze—the labyrinth helps us cope with it.

Creating a Labyrinth in Five Steps (An activity for school-age children)

  • Step one: Draw two lines crossing each other in the center—one vertical and one horizontal. Draw a dot in the middle of each of the quadrants
  • Step two: Next, connect dot in the upper left quadrant to the top of the vertical line
  • Step three: Next, go around the opposite side and connect dot in the upper right quadrant to the left end of the horizontal line
  • Step four: Next, go around the opposite side and connect dot in the lower left quadrant to the right end of the horizontal line
  • Step five: Final step—go all the way around to the opposite side and connect dot in the lower right quadrant to the lower end of the vertical line

This is what the final labyrinth drawing may look like on paper:

image001This is what the final labyrinth may look like by using beads in a small sand tray:

image002DISCUSSION:

Accessing the Creative Self

Labyrinths are universal round patterns of pathways that tend to attract people of all ages. They have been around since ancient time and are believed to represent one’s metaphorical spiritual journey (Bigard, 2009). Labyrinths may be represented in drawings, depicted in a sandy beach, or built in a small sand tray. McCullough (2004) emphasizes the labyrinth is a symbol of integration with “a single circuitous path that leads uninterrupted to a center” (p. 3). Bigard (2009) points out the difference between labyrinths and mazes. Whereas a maze invites one to lose oneself, the labyrinth offers “orientation and a means to find oneself” (Bigard, 2009, p. 138). Walking the labyrinth for meditative purposes has become very popular in recent years. Although there are a variety of labyrinth styles, the two most common are the Chartress-style labyrinth patterned after the one in the Chartress Cathedral in France, and the Classic Cretan-style.

image003Chartress-style Labyrinth

image004

Classic Cretan-style Labyrinth

Artress (2000), a world-wide labyrinth expert, came up with the idea of building a labyrinth in a sand tray as yet another option for walking the labyrinth metaphorically. Artress contends that the labyrinth pattern serves as a guide to self-reflection by awakening parts of the Self that might have been previously unacknowledged. Arising from a similar paradigm, Bigard (2009) believes the spirals in the labyrinth represent “growth and transformation” while the circle in which the spirals reside symbolizes “unity and wholeness” (p. 138). McCullough (2004) suggests that a simplistic, modified variation of the Classic Cretan style labyrinth.

(View full article with references here: A Labyrinth in the Sand-1.)

ChildTherapyToys has two great labyrinth items in stock. We have glass stones and marbles for creating labyrinths in the sand…

…as well as a lovely, handmade labyrinth that can be used as a sand tray miniature, a great example of what a labyrinth looks like, or you can just keep it on your desk as a relaxation device.

‘Cory Helps Kids’ books from ChildTherapyToys.com

Last year, Liana Lowenstein–the author and/or editor of several indispensable play therapy resources including Creative Family Therapy Techniques–published the first installment in her ‘CORY’ series, Cory Helps Kids Cope with Divorce: Playful Therapeutic Activities for Young Children. In this book, the title character guides children through the feelings they are having throughout the various stages of dealing with divorce. Cory’s relatibility helps to dissolve any comfort barriers in the therapist-child relationship, thus providing an ideal environment for the games, art, and other creative interventions that are introduced to facilitate treatment. In addition to the story and activities presented, the book also includes detailed handouts to inform and engage parents.

This month sees the release of the second book in the series, and we couldn’t be more thrilled by it’s arrival. Cory Helps Kids Cope with Sexual Abuse: Playful Activities for Traumatized Children utilizes the same innovative and effective format to help children work through the effects of sexual abuse and related trauma. It is an invaluable resource for treating a range of serious issues. Like all of her contributions to the practice of play therapy, this book is marked by her years of experience in the field, and her gift for developing fun, engaging games and interventions.

Of course, both of these titles are available at ChildTherapyToys.com. If you’ve used either one in your practice, we’d love to hear about your experience either here in the comment section, or as a review on the product page. 

Using the Sand Tray to Detect Family Roles

Here’s another interesting article submitted by reader Martha Nodar on the subject of sand tray therapy. Ms. Nodar earned a gift certificate to childtherapytoys.com for her submission. Learn how you can do the same!

Bradshaw (1988) argues families are systems with systemic needs which are typically fulfilled, mostly unconsciously, by family members. These family members may become unwitting participants drawn into the family drama. In dysfunctional families triangles are common because they serve the purpose of providing a relief to the drama. In such cases, children and adolescents may unconsciously adopt roles within their family in order to survive their environment and help bring some balance to the scene. For instance, a so-called difficult child may be unconsciously acting-out the unspoken tensions within the parental dyad (Kerr & Bowen, 1988). Fairy tales have a way of representing these family dynamics in a way that is both nonthreatening and entertaining. Sandtray also provides a safe forum to give a voice to the unspoken.

Sandtray and Fairy Tales

Lowenfeld (1993) suggests children see the world around them as “stories” that can be represented in the “tray” (p. 16). Lowenfeld argues fairy tales are an effective way to access two worlds at the same time—a fantasy world and one’s internal world through the use of metaphors. Drawn by her experience, Lowenfeld contends that children may enjoy fairy tales because “the rules of life within it are magical and different altogether from those at home” (p. 16). Fairy tales serve a purpose in cognitive and emotional development by giving children an opportunity to make sense of their world. Below is a sandtray activity that may be used with fairy tales designed to help the play therapist uncover the roles children or adolescents and their families may be playing within their family system.

Detecting Family Roles in the Sand (sand tray activity)

image001

  • Have the sandplayers first choose one of their favorite fairy tales and select miniatures to represent the story. Any fairy tale may be represented
  • The above image represents the Cinderella story. Cinderella is portrayed to the right. She was the daughter of a loving father and later became a congenial stepdaughter despite the way she was treated. A female sandplayer who may have adopted the Good Daughter role may identify with Cinderella
  • A father and a young daughter are featured in the center of the tray symbolizing the relationship Cinderella had with her loving father, but also symbolizing the safety children feel when they grow up in a nurturing environment. Sandplayers who have or wish they had such a relationship may identify with this miniature
  • The birds surrounding Cinderella and the Prince symbolize friends and companions. There may be sandplayers who may identify with the Friend or Companion role to a sibling or even to a parent. A male sandplayer may identify with the role of the Rescuer within the family and may be drawn to the Prince miniature
  • The Queen miniature symbolizes the evil stepmother. She is surrounded by two leopards, one on each side representing her two daughters, Cinderella’s stepsisters. Sandplayers may perceive themselves or someone in their family to be playing the role of the Queen or Leopard
  • Ask the sandplayers: “What do you know or remember from reading about this character?” How the fairy tale actually unfolds is not as important as how the sandplayer may recall or experience the story
  • Give sandplayers the choice of representing themselves in the scene by either:
    • Adopting the role of one of the miniatures already in the scene, or
    • By bringing a new miniature into the tray. Then ask; “What would this character do or not do?” Stay with the metaphors
  • Has the story changed? What role is the sandplayer now playing? What could be deciphered by the location and sequence of the miniatures?
  • Let us assume the sandplayer might have brought wild animals fighting with each other into the fairy tale activity. In such case, Homeyer and Sweeney (2011) suggest this may qualify as “An Aggressive World,” (p. 41), which may illustrate the sandplayer’s internal fear to expressing anger within his or her family system
  • Give the sandplayer the option to remove any or all of the miniatures from the scene. Homeyer and Sweeney (2011) argue a sandtray is considered an “Empty World” if two thirds or more of the tray has no miniatures” (p. 40). Children who grow up in dysfunctional families where they may feel unheard may come to adopt the role of the Lost Child (Bradshaw, 1988). A Lost Child is likely to create an Empty World sandtray to reflect his or her role in the family

Discussion

Each family has its own traditions, language, culture and routine. The different roles family members may adopt are unconsciously created and implicitly manifested to maintain the status quo and hence, protect an innate and universal fear of abandonment from one’s tribe. The problem with adapting a role is that the role may not be consistent with one’s real Self, but rather a modified self that may have been acquired out of a need to survive one’s environment. Sandtray therapists may become the sandplayer’s fellow traveler, sharing the tools to cope with life’s circumstances and for developing a differentiated Self from those tied to the family system. The goal is not to detach from the family, but to detach from participating in the family drama by refusing to play the roles dictated by a closed family system. Sandplay is a therapeutic tool ideal for symbolic archetypical journeys through the safety of metaphors.

References

Bradshaw, J. (1988). Healing the shame that binds you. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications.

Homeyer, L., & Sweeney, D. (2011). Sandtray therapy (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kerr, M., & Bowen, M. (1988). Family evaluation. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

Lowenfeld, M. (1993). Understanding children’s sandplay: Lowenfeld’s world technique. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Sussex Academic Press.

August Play Therapy Wrap-Up

-Early in the month, NPR had a very interesting piece that looks at the role of play in child development. Many believe that our current harried lifestyles are not allowing for sufficient play time, in what is being called a “national play crisis.” This story was the second in a weeklong “Playing to Learn” series.

-I’ve only read the abstract, but this seems like a really interesting article on Non-Directive Play Therapy.

-A new therapy room in Binghamton, NY was dedicated to a longtime sexual abuse counselor who recently passed away.

-LEGO play can be very beneficial to children with Autism. In this 5-minute lightning talk, Hannah Coles outlines how LEGO therapy works, and how it can improve language and communication.

-This video serves as a good introduction to play therapy for parents, and also touches on some concepts and guidelines that might be of interest to practitioners:

-A recent study on the effectiveness of sandplay therapy came to some very interesting conclusions about the measures of success. In short: lack of marked improvement does not suggest ineffectiveness.

-Like it or not, Summer is just about over. But with colder temperatures come new workshops and learning opportunities! The Colorado Sandplay Therapy Association is offering some great ones to its members including a free member training in consultation and didactic learning; Introduction to Sandplay; and, in early 2015, “Seeing with Real Eyes: Vulnerability and Courage in Sandplay and Play Therapy Stories”. Check out a full list of events here.

-Robin Williams’ suicide earlier this month was a great shock to all of us. It was hard to know how to process and express our grief over losing such an icon in such an upsetting way. Because suicide can be a contagious phenomenon, it is a very tricky subject to discuss, and the conversation can become particularly dangerous when it takes place on social media. This video and article looks at how to discuss suicide without endangering the severely depressed among us.

-A foundation in Pennsylvania is trying to move the play therapy room outside. As this article reports, the Fulton County Medical Center Foundation is campaigning to build a playground outside designed specifically for play therapy. It would be built to meet the needs of children of all ages, and those in need of a range of play therapy modalities including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language, and behavioral therapy.

-Want a free lecture on Individual Play Therapy? YouTube provides…

-A professor in New Mexico is using sand play as a part of an “embodied restorying process” to help veterans and their families dealing with the consequences of combat.

-Sand tray therapy without sand? This paper makes the case for a virtual sandtray.

-I really enjoyed these three techniques for improving self confidence from PsychCentral. It’s just one in a series of blog posts by child therapist Heather Gilmore, LLMSW.

Here’s a great response to the unexpected results of a study on pretend play.

Have a super September!

Positive Postings with The Play Therapy Chalkboard

This is a fun technique by Jacqueline Swank, found in Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children and Teens, edited by Liana Lowenstein. I’ve adapted it to be used with the Play Therapy Chalkboard, which I developed.

After reading a book about self-esteem, playing a game about self-esteem, or discussing self-esteem, clients are encouraged to draw a picture of themselves. In my session with Hillary we read I Like Myself, and then she drew a picture of herself on the chalkboard.

image001 After finishing the drawing on the Play Therapy Chalkboard, Hillary was asked to make positive statements about herself, which I wrote down on post-its. When finished, I read each one aloud and Hillary posted each one on her drawing. I then took a picture of the drawing with the post-its on it and sent the picture home with Hillary.

image004During this activity, therapists can talk about how to make positive self-statements when upset or discouraged, using specific examples from the child’s life.

This activity can also be used in small group and family sessions, with members writing down positive statements about each other.

The therapist should adjust how active they are in generating positive and affirming statements based on the skill of the client to identify and accept their own positive characteristics.

Using ‘Taboo: The Game of Unspeakable Fun’ to Teach Impulse Control

Taboo isn’t just for dinner parties! Here’s a fun intervention idea submitted by reader Charity Armbruster that uses the game to treat impulse control. Ms. Armbruster earned a gift certificate to childtherapytoys.com for her submission. Learn how you can do the same!

Taboo is a word guessing game by published by Hasbro. In the Taboo game, you need to get the other participant(s) to guess the secret word, but the obvious clues are strictly off-limits. To get someone to say pinball, you might say arcade, game, flippers, tilt, or roll. In this game you can’t because all of those words are strictly forbidden. There is an additional challenge in racing against a clock.

The Taboo Game can be difficult for children with impulse control issues and anger issues. However, as the game is played children are able to develop cooperation skills, persistence, impulse control, and learn how to delay gratification. I play the game with students in our schools who have anger issues. Many of these children can be rather explosive. As an angry child becomes more emotional, they may refuse or be unable to say why they are upset or what happened to cause their distress. Before starting the Taboo game I explain how difficult it can be to communicate when angry, and I state that when someone becomes so angry they cannot express their feelings, it’s like a game of Taboo. The teachers and aides are trying to figure out what the problem is, but the child is not saying anything. I explain that even a simple “I don’t know” can be more beneficial than not saying anything.

Playing the Taboo game is usually combined with other lessons related to anger control, such as identifying what makes me angry, strategies to control my anger, and techniques to regulate and/or healthily redirect my anger.

Example 1: In this example the game was played one-on-one with a student. I began by explaining the rules of the game to a student, and then I went first. The child’s task was to guess what the word on the card was. Within minutes the student became very upset  because he could not guess the word. As we played the game, we would stop and take breaks, and process the frustration and ways to handle it.

Example 2: During another game a student became frustrated and threw the cards across the room, stating this game is “stupid”. Again, I processed and discussed the frustration with the student. He sat in the chair and stared at me. He then said “it’s really hard.” I asked him if instead of throwing the cards could he “ask me for help from me.” Often I would stop and use humor to defuse his frustration before it became to explosive.

For children with impulse and anger issues, Taboo: The Game can be difficult because they may have a hard time finding the right word. However, playing the game over time gives the child and counselor ample opportunity to develop anger management strategies, frustration tolerance, and better communication skills.

TabooGame

Alexis and the Thumball: A Story About A Girl Who Did Not Want To Be In Therapy

Eleven year old Alexis had been to therapy many times for her disruptive behavior. Her parents and teachers were unhappy with her and it was her experience that they were ALWAYS mad at her. She did not want to be in therapy, and had made it clear to her parents and to me during the initial visit, that she had no intention of talking or cooperating with therapy.

At the beginning of the second session I checked in with Alexis and she assured me that she still did not want to come to counseling. While I was talking to Alexis I held a Thumball in my hand. I asked her how hard she had tried to convince her parents not to bring her back, and what she had said to them. I asked if there was anything I could do to convince her parents not to bring her back. Apparently there was! Just tell them there was nothing wrong with her.

I reminded Alexis that one of her parent’s concerns was that she had difficulty listening the first time. “How have you done this week, listening the first time?” Alexis assured me that she had done very well, and I suggested she wouldn’t be in therapy very long if that was the case.

image_0Alexis appeared to notice that she was engaging with me, and withdrew. She became a little quieter and the look on her face was somewhat angry. So, I changed the subject and asked her if she knew what a Thumball was? After she replied that she did not, I threw it to her, and immediately asked her to throw it back. This happened fairly quickly so Alexis didn’t have time to think about whether or not she was going to cooperate, and she threw it back. I responded to the first panel. I tossed it to her and she responded. After a few minutes I suggested that since we were stuck here for 45 minutes perhaps we could do something else. I suggested we could continue to talk, play in the playroom, do a sand tray, or play a game. She chose to play a game.

Like all good stories, this story should have a lesson or a moral. Something we can learn from it. First, let’s consider what this story tells us about play. According to the United Kingdom’s Children’s Play Information Service:

  • Play includes a range of self-chosen activities, undertaken for their own interest, enjoyment and the satisfaction that results for children;
  • Very young children, even babies, show playful behavior when they explore sound and simple actions and experiment with objects of interest;
  • Play activities are not essential to meet basic physical survival needs. But play does seem to support children’s emotional well-being as well as a wide range of learning within their whole development;
  • Children can play alone, but often they play with other children and with familiar adults. Even very young children engage in simple give-and-take or copying games with their peers, older siblings or with adults;
  • A playful quality in activities is shown by the exercise of choice, enjoyable repetition and invitation to others to join the play.

So, once Alexis and I threw the ball back and forth, we were engaged in play, a game of catch. However, play as it is engaged in by play therapists is not just a behavior or an activity. It is not just something done with toys in the playroom. The therapist’s attitude of playfulness is important in bringing play into the session and engaging the child. I was playful in my approach to discussing Alexis’ lack of desire to be in the session, but still respected what she had to say and her desire to not participate in therapy. I held a ball in my hand, which implies that play may occur.

image_1

If I held a book, or an axe, something different would have been implied.

The game of catch has likely been with us since humans discovered they could pick something up and throw it, and most children know that you throw the ball back after you throw it to them. So play is both an attitude of playfulness, and an activity.

Winnicott argued that playing is a necessary part of working with children. “Psychotherapy takes place in the overlap of two areas of playing, that of the patient and that of the therapist. Psychotherapy has to do with two people playing together. The corollary of this is that where playing is not possible then the work done by the therapist is directed towards bringing the patient from a state of not being able to play into a state of being able to play. (Winnicott, D.W., 1968)

Play is the most developmentally appropriate way for children to build relationships with adults. Through play children develop critical thinking skills, impulse control, process stressful experiences, and learn social skills.

How does play become Play Therapy? I would argue that the moment Alexis catches the ball, our engagement is deepened and is becoming therapeutic, and we are engaging in Play Therapy. How is that play therapy? Alexis is now having fun with an adult who is enjoying her, liking her, and listening to her. And she’s not being required to talk about what a bad kid she is, so now she can relax a little. As an adult who is also a therapist I bring an expectation and desire to promote change, or resolve difficulties, in a particular way. And this is communicated through my attitude and communication style, and supported by my training, understanding of the problem, and intervention techniques.

Unlike her experience in any of her previous sessions, Alexis’ mood is now elevated and improved as she engages in a playful activity. At her next session, her parents quietly whispered to the therapist as he brought Alexis back to her session, “she didn’t complain once about coming back to therapy.”

Snow White: An Archetypal Journey

Here’s a very interesting article submitted by reader Martha Nodar on the subject of archetypes. Ms. Nodar earned a gift certificate to childtherapytoys.com for her submission. Learn how you can do the same!

Snow White: An Archetypal Journey

         Once upon a time, Jung (1953) argued that archetypes are shared universal and implicit patterns of behavior which reside in the collective unconscious. For instance, the Child archetype is innate in every psyche (Myss, 2001) and almost needs no explanation. Fear of rejection is a characteristic associated with this archetype and it is frequently explored in fairy tales such as in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs—the story of a princess rejected by her family who is thrown into a journey of survival, both literally and metaphorically. Jung emphasizes it is important to understand the meaning of the symbolism behind the archetype. In other words, what does it mean to have the Child archetype and how does the fear of rejection is likely to manifest symbolically in one’s life as the result?

Child-Orphan Archetype

        While Jung (1953) focused on a few major archetypes, Myss (2001), a Jungian analyst, has expanded Jung’s repertoire to cover different dimensions of the major archetypes Jung suggested. She contends that although humans share four major symbolic archetypes in their collective unconscious (Child, Victim, Saboteur, and Prostitute) (Myss, 2001), there is usually one archetype that seems to be more prominent in an individual’s psyche. For instance, in the case of Snow White, Myss (2001) proposes, the princess embodies the Child-Orphan archetype (a dimension of the Child archetype), which includes those who feel “they are not part of their family. . . [and yet, oftentimes]. . . succeed at finding a path of survival [after] having won a battle with a dark force” (p. 372). Snow White’s dark force is her wicked stepmother who wants to see her dead. Consistent with Myss’ arguments, one of the characteristics associated with the Child-Orphan archetype is the ability to build a network of friends—illustrated in the story through the princess’ relationship with the dwarfs and Prince Charming. One of the aspects of the shadow side of this archetype is the extent to which one may be vulnerable to be indiscriminately trusting of others who may have a hidden agenda. This dynamic is symbolized in the fairy tale when the princess trusts the disguised wicked stepmother and eats the poisoned apple.

Check out the full article here: Snow White

The Use of Art Therapy With Children and Adolescents Who Have a Trauma History

Art Therapy has a longer, richer history than one might think. This excellent paper submitted by reader Paula Jensen delves into the origins and evolution of this creative intervention and, more specifically, its many applications in treatment of trauma. Ms. Jensen earned a gift certificate to childtherapytoys.com for her submission. Learn how you can do the same!

 

Abstract:

Art therapy has been an accepted treatment modality in the therapeutic community for approximately 60 development of art therapy psychological years. Throughout this time, art therapy has been utilized in the treatment of several psychological, the purpose of its use with treating traumatic effects, including amelioration of disorders including trauma. The following review of the literature discusses the disturbances, fostering identity development, self-awareness, self-esteem, its effectiveness associated with the treatment of trauma, and its use as an adjunct with Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

The Use of Art Therapy With Children and Adolescents Who Have a Trauma History

           Art has been a prominent part of world culture since the beginnings of man. The oldest recorded piece of abstract art is dated approximately 70,000 years (Whitehouse, 2002). Cavemen carved hieroglyphics as a way to tell stories and communicate messages while Ancient Egyptians carved markings and pictures into the sides of tombs to symbolize the belief of what happened to the human spirit after death. Native Americans use sand paintings in their healing and initiation ceremonies (Ammann & Sandner, 1991). In his book, Man and His Symbols, psychoanalyst Carl Jung (1964) discussed the value of symbols in relation to human existence. Judith Rubin (1999), a pioneer in art therapy, reported that healers, past and present, utilized art-making because of the universality and related power of the symbolic mode. After being used for self-expression and healing for thousands of years, art is now an accepted modality for the treatment of psychological issues by the therapeutic community.

Art Therapy

            Art therapy is described by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) (2011) as “[the use of] the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages” (p. 1). Art therapy is based on the belief that “the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, self-awareness, and achieve insight” (AATA, 2011, p. 1). Contemporary counselors utilize art therapy to address a variety of mental health issues including: “anxiety, depression, substance abuse and addictions; family and relationship issues; abuse and domestic violence; social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness; trauma and loss; physical, cognitive, and neurological problems; and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness” (AATA, 2011, p. 1). Art therapy is an innovative modality for addressing a variety of traumatic experiences when working with children and adolescents (Baker, 2006; Buschel & Madsen, 2006; Finn, 2003; Kennedy, 2008; Malchoidi, 2006; Pretorius, 2010; Yohani, 2008).

The Development of Art Therapy

            Carl Jung theorized about the importance of exploring and gaining awareness into the unknown self, memories, and understanding the symbolism within the unconscious mind (Jung, 1916; Jung, 1964). Jung, who participated in creative processes in his own life, explored these symbols with clients and helped them to recreate and interpret the meaning of their experiences (Malchiodi, 2006). Throughout his life, Jung continued to draw and paint, in addition to portraying his dreams in writing and carvings in wood and stone (Gladding, 2006). Through his use of art in psychoanalysis, Carl Jung demonstrated that the artistic process is capable of facilitating a deeper understanding of each level of an individual’s psyche.

Open and read the full document here: Art Therapy and Trauma