I often encourage my clients to keep a journal. I find them to be a great way to explore feelings outside of the session and it often generates thoughts they may want to bring up in their next appointment.
What is Journal Writing:
Most simply, journal writing is keeping written or typed form of your thoughts. These thoughts can be structured by answering questions or following a journal prompt, or they can be free style. You could even say a diary is a journal.
Journal writing is a wonderful tool for increasing self-awareness and expressing your self. It is a way to explore your inner thoughts, feelings, and desires. Some people even use journals to record important memories or dreams.
When and how?
Anywhere and anytime! Many people journal before bed, and others may journal when they feel the need to get their thoughts onto paper. All you need is a journal book, notebook, and even a laptop. Journaling can be in written form or typed. If you have a hard time starting a journal, I suggest using some journal prompts.
I created a journal prompt, which you can download and print for free by clicking onJournaling Writing Prompts. Here are the prompts in the print out:
1. Finish the sentence…
Today I feel…
I’m so happy I have…
I feel challenged by…
A wonderful thing that happened today…
If I had the courage, I would…
Often times I wonder…
My mother …
I showed a lot of strength when…
Sometimes I imagine…
I’m embarrassed that…
My greatest achievement in life is…
2. Write about a difficultly time in your life when you showed strength.
3. People often have scripts, or sayings, that they repeat over and over again in their mind. Identify 2-3 common scripts you find yourself saying.
4. Describe how you want your life to look in 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years.
5. List your top three…
Wisest people in your life.
People you trust.
Songs that make you happy.
This is only a fraction of the ideas you can journal from. If you have any experiences with journaling, or if you have a good resource for more prompts, please share!
I was scrolling through toys for my kids a couple weeks ago and came across Rory’s Story Cubes. I thought they sounded fun and wanted to try using them in session so I purchased them for around $7 plus shipping on amazon.com. Turns out… I love this game!
About the Game
There are 9 cubes in the box about the size of your typical dice. Each cube is white with a black picture, different one on each side of the cube. The player,or players, roll the cubes and tell a picture from the story.
Ways To Play and Use In Therapy
1. One person rolls all the dice and tells a story using the pictures on the tops of the cubes while the other person listens. I used this on a young male client and young female client (both middle school age ranges). These were individual sessions and not as a group. I asked the child to roll the cubes and tell a story about their life and try to incorporate some difficult things they have been struggling with. At first, I wasn’t sure how effective or easy this would be, given it takes some thought and creativity. But the stories, and process of telling the story was great! It allowed the children another medium to describe what they were experiencing and I learned more about them as well. For example, one child rolled a cube with an alien face and used this to describe their parents and why they saw them in that way.
2. Two or more people roll the cubes and take turns telling a part of the story with one cube at a time. This will allow the therapist to incorporate themes or characters in the story and see how the client responds.
3. Incorporate superheros and villains. This idea is directly off the Rory’s Story Cubes website and I love it.
1. Describe your superpower.
Each person takes a turn to roll 3 cubes.
Use these to describe your superpower. (And a name, a name is very important).
2. Create a backstory.
Next everyone takes turns to roll all 9 cubes.
Use these to give your hero a backstory. Remember to add a flaw or weakness, this is what makes your hero human.
3. Create a Super-villain
All superhero teams need an arch-nemesis or super-villain to go up against. To create a super-villain, roll all 9 cubes then, as a group, use the 9 images to describe this villain. give him/her or it a unique ‘calling card’ a modus operandi, so for example The Joker always leaves a card, Bomb Voyage from the Incredibles leaves bombs etc.
Give him/her/it a name and a reason for doing what they do. How does the villain justify their actions?
Now that you have your characters, you are free to create all kinds of super-powered stories featuring the heroes and their arch-nemesis.
Story Cube App for iOS and Android
While pulling up the website for this post, I found out there is an app. Why not? There seems to be an app for everything these days. I downloaded the app for $1.99 and it’s pretty cool too. You shake your phone to roll the cubes and move them around as you wish with a touch of your finger. There are also different themed cubes you can purchase for another $1.99 each with themes of voyages, clues, enchanted and prehistoric. Below are pictures I took from my phone using the app.
Does anyone else have any suggestions for using this game? I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! 🙂
I bought this CD many months ago and have finally taken the time to start listening. I love Adventures Within so much, I wanted to share it with you all!
Kids Relaxation (www.kidsrelaxation.com) is one of my favorite blogs. It’s filled with wonderful ideas for teaching kids (and adults) relaxation techniques using quite a bit of guided imagery.
Here is what I love so far:
The CD was a purchase I made to use with kids in session, but I have actually found it to be useful for myself, and for adults too.
The female voice narrating is both calming, as well as kid-friendly. In other words, it is relaxing, but will still keep kids engaged.
The CD starts out by teaching HOW to relax through imagination, deep breathing (she calls it balloon breathing), and positive self talk.
There are numerous guided imagery scenaries on the CD.
I am still working my way through the entire CD, but so far my favorite is Finding Strength in the Storm. And guess what? You can purchase each one separately on mp3. I linked you to my favorite, but certainly suggest listening to more than one.
If you have a relaxation or guided imagery CD or mp3 you enjoy, please share!
Hello from the Potato State! My name is Stacey and I am co-runner of a little Idaho blog called: A PSR Gathering. I am here today to give a little insight on what we do!
In Idaho we have an awesome service offered to children and adults called PSR or Psycho-Social Rehabilitation. PSR is not available to everyone (it is a Medicaid only service and not in every state) which examples the blank stares I often get when I tell people what I do. Katie and I work with children (ages 4-19 is the general range of clients) but, adult services are available! Clients who qualify for PSR have been diagnosed with a Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) for children, or a Severe and Persistent Mental Disorder (SPMD) for adults. I am going to keep this simple and sweet for you today, if you have a questions feel free to ask!
Have a Bachelors degree (in Social Services, Early Childhood Education, Sociology, Social Work, Psychology, and the like)? You can do PSR! You will have to gain a USPRA certification though, if you wish to work in the state of Idaho. Some states even require a master’s degree.
Katie (on the left): I graduated with a BAS in Child Care and Development from Boise State University in 2009. I have lived in Boise the majority of my life, am married with two dogs and with what spare time I can find love to travel, run, camp and read. I have worked with kids for about 15 years in many different ways, from camp counselor to tutor to Pre-school teacher! I have been working as a PSR Specialist for about two and a half years now, and am just feeling like I’m getting the hang of it!
Stacey (on the right): I graduated from Boise State University in 2010, with my B.F.A in Drawing and studies in Psychology and Art Therapy. My family moved us to Boise when I was 10 and we have been here ever since. I just bought a house a street over from my childhood home and live there with my boyfriend of many years and our bully breed pup, Penny. I have too many interests to list but the tops are: creating, motorcycles, bargain hunting and kicking back! I have always had a passion for helping others, which has given me the opportunity to work in an array of jobs. From working with animals, to slinging coffee or advising college students… I’ve done it all! I have been a PSR specialist for going on two years and can’t wait to see where it takes me.
What do we do as PSR workers?
PSR is individual skill based training, such as anger management, social skills emotions recognition, etc.
When do we work?
Each client qualifies for about 4-5 hours per week. We work in the community so our hours are outside of school hours–afternoons, night and weekends. As you can imagine we love summer for its flexibility!
So…an office? School?…where do you work?
PSR is a community-based position, no office (unless your car counts–I haven’t used my trunk for purposes other than hauling around ‘PSR’ tools for 2 years now-ha!). We work in the homes or take them out into the community to work. Libraries, malls, Barnes and Noble, coffee shops, parks–you get the idea.
Our goal(s) in PSR are simple. When a client comes into PSR a treatment plan is designed that consists of measurable and behaviorally specific objectives. PSR is there to build skills to better communicate, interact within society, build relationships, handle situations and overall be the best kiddos they can be!
We do an array of activities with clients (based on age, understanding and needs). Being out in the community and in the homes, we get a good glimpse on what our clients are like when their ‘guard’ is down, which lends to a lot of ‘real life training.’ We also get to be silly kids our selves by using play and art to teach our clients new skills! Check http://www.psrideaweb.com/for awesome activity ideas!
Last week, I posted an Introduction to Filial Therapy. Don’t let the name deter you from reading further. This is simply a tool that play therapists use to create and strengthen the relationship between parents and children.
Today, I am going to share the first few steps in getting started in this special play time with your child! We will talk about who will be included, where the play time should be held, a time to schedule, what to tell your child, and what play materials you will need. I am so excited about this blog series because I know so many parents and children can benefit from devoting this time together!!
Who: This play time is recommended for ONE parent and ONE child together at a time. It doesn’t matter if it’s mom or dad. I recommend these sessions for children between the ages of 3 years and 7 years of age.
When: Decide upon a specific play session time. I recommend starting with 20-30 minutes, once a week. Choose a time when you will have little to no interruptions and you can focus your attention solely on the child. You also want to consider a time when your child will be fed and rested to avoid any irritability or fussiness.
Where: Choose a room that has little distrations for you and your child. You will be putting the toys on the floor so consider somewhere with decent floor space. If all the rooms in your house are regularly used, just make sure the space is clean (to minimize the distration of thinking about the mess).
What To Tell The Child: Tell your child that you want to spend more quality time with them and you have chosen the special time, place, and toys to play together. Make the focus on your desire to spend time with them, rather than wanting anything from the child.
Play Materials: Below is a list of toys and play materials to collect, but first I have a few pointers/guidelines.
Store your toys in a special box or bag, away from the child’s other toys.
Do not allow the child to bring in any toys or take any toys from this box of designated toys.
You can find many of these toys at dollar stores and garage sales. Don’t fret about spending a lot of money!
If you cannot find every toy on this list, do NOT let it keep you from getting started. If you have a good amout of the toys, or find good substitute, then you are good to go!
And finally, below is a list of toys to get started.
Glue (I prefer stick glue)
1-2 small cars
2 cell phones (I use an old cell I no longer use)
Kitchen set (couple dishes and toy food)
Baby doll accessories (such as a bottle, diaper, clothes)
Set of animals (such as a lion, elephant, monkey, shark, dog, pig, etc)
2 soft animals
Deck of cards
Noise maker (such as a maraca or toy drum)
I gathered a small sample of toys from my play room to give you an example of the types of toys you will be gathering. Happy hunting!
I forgot to share with you all a newsletter article I have featured on Liana Lowenstein’s December newsletter. Please check it out! There is a lot of great information shared in her monthly newsletter so I encourage you to sign up!
One of the most important things we can do as parents is to connect with our child. There are many ways to accomplish this, including regular communication, spending time together, and teaching them new things. Entering their world of play is also an effective way to connect with your child. As a play therapist, one of the tools I use to help the child and their family is something we call filial theray. I am basically teaching parents some basic tools and skills I use in play therapy to carry over into the home.
The purpose of filial therapy is to create, maintain, or improve the bond between parent and child. If you have not had the opportunity to enter into your child’s (or any child’s) world of play, you are in for a treat! I am going to talk about getting down on their level, reflecting what you see and hear, and interacting in a totally new way with your child. In addition, this one-on-one time with your child may also help to improve attention-seeking behaviors and separation anxiety by giving them positive attention they need and desire.
This is different from “play therapy“ because there is no interpretation, no evaluation, and no thinking hat required. You are simply being asked to offer your child a special time to play with special toys and a special person (you!).
The play time gives the parent(s) a different focus by taking them out of the critical role of teaching and correcting.
It places the parent(s) in a situation where they can be more objective with their child. They learn something new about their child and develop more realistic expectations.
It lessons or removes the stigma of failure (mistakes can be redeemed). The focus is on the future: what they can do rather than past behaviors/problems.
It changes parents’ expectations of themselves.
The child begins to see their parents differently- as allies on their side.
It is a self-correcting means of learning within a moving process.
Benefits to Parents
The time with the child is scheduled and uninterrupted.
It is an oasis pull-aside time-relaxing- no entertaining.
There is less pressure to teach, to do right, to be on the spot.
Parental self-confidence is increased.
They feel more in control.
They are more accepting of themselves and their children.
They have less guilt.
What We Will Be Learning (Upcoming Posts)
Who, When, and Where: Getting ready
Tools of The Trade: Toys recommended just for this special play time
Play Therapy Skills: basic skills to use during play time with your kids
Special Scenarios: Setting Limits and FAQs
If you are a parent of a child 8 years and under, this is a great activity for you to engage in with your child or children! If you are a therapist who works with children and families, filial therapy can be an excellent therapeutic tool to use in conjunction with your regular therapy interventions. I can’t wait to get started!!
3. Trying to decide whether to put your child in preschool? SSBE has a good post on this topic- Preschool: yes or no.She lists the many issues to consider, such as the financial costs, readiness of the child, and benefits of preschool, as well as some additional resources to check out on the subject. Being a mother of young children, I will be bookmarking this one!
4. About.Com has a good article on preparing yourself and your toddler for surgery- Toddler Surgery. I have not had to go through this yet, but I even cried when my first born got his first vaccination shot!
I loved this article on Huff Post. Here are a few of the tips, but check out the full article for the full effect!
Wake with the sun – There is no purer light than what we see when we open our eyes first thing in the morning. Resisting the morning’s first waking moment instantly adds stress to your day. Avoiding the sun, you commence a chase that lasts all day long: running short of time, balance, peace and productivity.
Sit – Mindfulness without meditation is just a word. The search for mindful living is always grounded in a meditation practice. Seated meditation is the easiest and fastest way to clear your mind of anxious, fearful and stressful thoughts. Meditation puts your overactive brain on a diet, so you have more attention to bring to the real life that appears before you. You will be far more productive in the ensuing hours if you begin the day by spending five minutes actively engaged in doing nothing at all.
Make your bed – The state of your bed is the state of your head. Enfold your day in dignity. The five minutes you spend making your bed slows you down from your frantic, morning scrambling and creates a calm retreat to welcome you home at night. Plus, making your bed means you’ve already achieved an even more challenging feat: getting out of it.
Empty the hampers – Do the laundry without resentment or commentary and have an intimate encounter with the very fabric of life. Doing laundry is a supreme act of personal responsibility. It requires maturity, attention and discipline, and it engenders happiness. Don’t believe me? See how you feel every time you reach the bottom of an empty hamper.
Wash your bowl – Rinse away self-importance and clean up your own kitchen mess. If you leave it undone, it will get sticky. An empty sink can be the single most gratifying sight of a long and tiring day.
Rake the leaves – Take yourself outside to rake, weed or sweep. You’ll never finish for good, but you’ll learn the point of pointlessness. The repetitive motion is meditative; the fresh air is enlivening. Lose yourself in doing what needs to be done, without a thought of permanent outcome or gain. You’ll immediately alter your worldview.
Eat when hungry – Align your inexhaustible desires with the one true appetite. Coming clean about our food addictions and aversions is powerful and lasting medicine. Eating is so central to family life and culture that we can pass on our habits for generations to come. Mindless overeating feeds our sickness; mindful eating feeds the body’s intuitive, intelligent wisdom and nourishes life well past tonight’s empty plates.
Let the darkness come – Set a curfew on the Internet and TV and discover the natural balance between daylight and darkness, work and rest. Your taste for the quiet will naturally increase. When you end your day in accord with the earth’s perfect rhythm, you grant the whole world a moment of pure peace.
Over time, I have come across many anger-related activities from websites, blogs, and more. I decided to gather them all in one place and came up with a list of 50. If you have any other tools targeting anger, please share with the rest of us!
This anger management activity can show a client how anger can build up inside a person. It can also show the client that when they feel an angry tornado building up inside of them they can use coping skills to help defuse the anger.
With this activity the play therapy client will create a “visual” of their problems being locked away in a tower and come up with solutions to solving these problems. If the play therapy client is not ready to create a solution to the problem the client can still benefit by visualizing the problem locked away in the tower. The play therapy client can become empowered by separating themselves from the problem that is locked away in the tower.
After reading When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry…, we played a game with the tree pictured. I gave students examples of things that made them or Sophie angry and had students put a leaf on the tree for their response.
The Anger Management Puppet Set includes 3 Puppets, a CD of recorded script and catchy original music, and a separate guide. The two scripts and one CD that are designed to help counselors, teachers, or parents teach children about how to be a good sport and how to deal with anger. These puppets are suitable for small and large hands are quite durable. They are made for long term use.
For people to recognize and understand that the anger they keep on the inside affects how they live their lives. To help people recognize the good things that they have in their hearts and to encourage them to share this part of themselves with others.
Give these cards to students to use throughout their day. Have them place their thumb behind the card and watch for the color change to reveal how calm they can make themselves. Four useful steps to anger control are provided on the back of each card.
Escape form Anger Island™ is designed with the busy counselor in mind, and it can be played in just 15 minutes. There are six skills in total, and one skill is the focus of each 15 minute session. Kids can play multiple times to learn all six skills.
These cards depict different elements of the anger cycle. Using appropriate cards in a variety of activities discussed in the accompanying booklet will facilitate awareness of the causes of anger and help to work out ways to overcome those triggers. For use one-to-one or with small or large groups.
This game is intended to introduce the concept of anger management to children, while encouraging them to talk about things that bother them. The game is played like the familiar children’s card game of War, but with a peaceful twist!
Here’s a deck of cards that teaches children how to manage their anger. Using two internal dialog techniques—Thought Stopping and Self-Talk—kids can stop anger in its tracks. By simply playing cards, they learn to envision a stop sign whenever their anger is triggered and to replace their angry thoughts with more positive responses.
Angry Aardvark, Cranky Crab, Furious Frog, Mad Meerkat, Peeved Pig, and Raging Racoon teach children how to respond to anger in healthy ways. As they move from the Anger Volcano to Tranquility Beach—with occasional visits to the Time-Out Tent—kids answer game card questions about behavior, responsibility, sibling rivalry, conflict, and relationships. Along the way, they learn that anger is a natural feeling, neither good nor bad. It’s the way one expresses anger that matters.
Smart and Angry is a therapeutic and educational board game designed to teach young people specific skills that will help them look objectively at anger-provoking situations and react in a thoughtful, assertive, and respectful way. It is not the anger that gets kids in trouble, but rather the actions they take when they are angry, that determine whether they can solve the problem or make things worse. In addition, many people misread situations and become angry when it is inappropriate.
The Positive Ways to Handle Anger Card Game is played like the classic Old Maid card game. There are 20 sets of matching cards that show positive, safe ways to handle angry feelings. Each game includes playing instructions, information about anger and how to use the game as an educational tool.
The Anger IQ game educates players about the hazards of irrational thinking associated with anger, and gives them practice avoiding them by using a set of principles for dealing with anger. Players will translate this rehearsal of responsible decisions made under conditions of anger to the real world. This combined use of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and Social Learning Theory is particularly effective.
This game helps children learn how to stay cool and not blow up when they are angry. The object of the “I Was So Mad” Anger Game is to help children learn positive ways to control and regulate themselves when they are angry.
This fast-paced therapeutic card game helps children control their anger in the moment, practice effective anger management techniques, and understand what anger looks and feels like. Mad Dragon plays like the popular card game Uno.
Putting together a play therapy room or a play therapy kit is part of the fun of being a play therapist and working with kids. And since I’m a mom too, I can use all of these to put together my own kid’s room.I’ve seen a lot of great ideas, many inexpensive, for use in a play therapy room. and wanted to share with you. If you have any other suggestions or links, please share with the rest of us!
To get to the original source for instructions, click on the picture!
***** DOLL HOUSES *****
Making a dollhouse from a cardboard boxis an inexpensive idea for a portable play therapy kit!
Using a dresser as a doll house! You have storage for all the accessories and dolls underneath!
More dollhouses made from book shelves!! The last one even rolls for easy portability!
***** SAND TRAYS AND SENSORY TABLES *****
DIY Sand Tray from IKEA nightstand! Blogger says:
This cute DIY sensory table was made from an IKEA nightstandturned upside down with one of the shelves taken out and a bin inserted in its place. Just fill the bin up with sand, beans, water or anything else you can think of for a (somewhat) contained way for your child to play with otherwise messy items.
Another DIY Sand Tray, using even less expensive items, including a tupaware box and metal legs. This mom uses rice, but you could also use sand.
Display your sand tray items on a wall storage like this!
I’m in love with this sand tray room!! I just think it looks beautiful, clean, and inviting.
***** REAL LIFE PLAY *****
A DIY medical kitfrom items in your home. Another idea for an inexpensive tool in therapy!
A crafty idea to turn an old entertainment center into a play kitchen.
A friend of mine made this play kitchen out of an end table! She got the idea from Ikeahackers.net.
This picture shows clothes being hung on a ladder, but I think this would be great in a play therapy room todisplay dress up clothesand takes up less space than some of the other clothing racks I’ve seen!
***** PUPPET THEATER AND PUPPETS *****
This puppet theater was made from an old book shelf!
This theater is made from a foam board and will take up less space and more portable.
***** ART AND CREATIVITY CENTERS *****
A chalkboard on the wall or behind the door is a good space for drawing but doesn’t take up much space.
In this picture, I love the idea of putting all the CRAYONS in a large glass jar! 🙂
***** FANTASY PLAY *****
I don’t have a pirate ship in my play room YET, but I can see how this could be excellent for eliciting therapeutic fantasy play!
***** SAFE PLACES *****
If you have the room in your play therapy room or child’s room, a teepee would be a great addition and are simple to make. Any kid would feel safe and secure in this small space, yet it is still open enough so they are not hidden from your sight (if you are in a play therapy room).
***** ORGANIZATION AND DISPLAY *****
This is about the size of most playrooms and I like the arrangement of the toys. The entire blog post is all about organizing and is worth the read!
I like the idea of putting these “boxes” on the wall. I think this would be perfect for displaying sand tray toys, puppets, and other items that sometimes get lost in bins.
I like this picture because it shows a small room (most play therapy rooms are small) but it is organized nicely, using a teepee, small table, and flat doll house.
This underbed storage unit would be good for keep sand tray toys organized if you are unable to display them on a shelf or doll house items.