Another Step In “All Tied Up with Worry”

If you have read my blog, you know I love sharing great therapeutic activities. I have already posted one of my favorites, which is using yarn to learn more about a person’s worries (see original post below). I added another step during a family therapy session that provided a strong visual impact and gave them an option to continue this technique at home.

  • I found face shapes of varying shades at a craft store and asked the client to choose a face that will represent them.

  • Instead of cutting paper squares to label the yarn, I used address labels since they are also stickers.
  • I then asked the client to stick each worry in the “brain” of their face shape. Once this was done, we talked about how worries can fill up their head and make it hard to think of other things, such as school work.

  • We then took each worry out of their “brain” and talked about various solutions and ways to deal with the worries. If the client chose, they could cut the worry down to make it shorter to indicate they felt a little better about the worry.

Since we used address labels to stick on the face shape, I demonstrated removing some of the worries. I emphasized the importance of talking about our problems and applying any stress reduction techniques we have reviewed in our sessions together. For this particular client, we referred to the relaxation flip books completed in a prior session.

  • The client took home their project and some blank labels so they can remove worries, or add worries. This was helpful for the mother to understand more about her child’s worries and removing or cutting a worry down also felt really good for the client!

Mom actually told me the whole family is on board in discussing their worries and the size of their worries with one another. This dialog has already improved the family’s communication and given the child permission to share their feelings with the parents. I was very excited to hear this!

Therapy is always full of opportunities for creativity. If you find another twist to this activity, or any others, please feel free to share!

Original Post On 4/16/12: 

Therapeutic Activity: All Tied Up With Worry

This is a great activity for helping someone to visualize their worries and gives great insight into what they may be worrying about the most. You can do this for yourself, your children, or professionals can use this on their clients. Great for all ages!!

The pictures below are from an actual client and I’ll discuss a little more about what I found.

What you will need: yarn, small squares of paper, and something to write with.

Next, talk about something the person worries about and pull out a string of yarn that represents how big the worry feels. Write the worry down on a piece of paper. Be sure to attach the worry to the string of yarn so you can keep track of which wory goes with which string of yarn.

Once all the worries have been mentioned and the yarn pulled, you can evaluate what you see. In my experience with this activity, I have found that some people have A LOT of worries. Others only have a few worries, but they may be really big. This also puts into perspective what worries are bigger than others. It’s a wonderful tool for gathering AND processing information!

This isn’t the greatest photo, but you can get the idea. There are three worries pictured, ranging in length from small to very long. The smallest worry is “worrying about mom not being able to support me” and the longest worry is getting in trouble for things he didn’t do. This is a school age child who had been getting into trouble so much lately that he was the first one pointed at when something went missing or a fight broke out in class. He was given an opportunity to talk about this issue and how he feels about getting in trouble so much.

This particular child did not have many worries, but some do. For those who have a lot of worries, we have balled up the yarn and talked about how all these worries in their head feel. Another option is to string the worries up into a web. I did this with a child around Halloween and he had a lot of fun, and actually added in some of those plastic spiders!

Many times the topics we are talking about can be emotionally heavy so adding in some fun and light-heartedness can help the person through the activity without leaving them feeling weighed down!

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Published by

Kim Peterson, MA, LPC-S, RPT

Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, and Registered Play Therapist in Dallas, Texas.

6 thoughts on “Another Step In “All Tied Up with Worry”

  1. Hi Kim: I found your site through a pin another counselor had posted. As an LPC in Missouri working with both kids and adults, I really like the ideas of the yarn worries on the face and the the yarn strings. As you already mentioned, it gives really good visual impact and feedback for clients or their parents.

  2. thank you so much for all your creative activites…..as a busy social worker in a public school system…I can’t tell you how much this means to me to have these resources at my fingertips….keep up the good work!!

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