Monday, August 4, 2014

More Play Therapy!

I was so jazzed about the play therapy workshop I took this winter, I decided to take an introduction to play therapy class at a local university in my neighborhood this summer. It was awesome! I learned SO much in just a few short weeks.  The class confirmed my decision to work towards becoming a registered play therapist.

I thought I would share some of the basic skills I learned. 

1. Tracking-Narrating the child's actions with the toys. 

For example, if a child picks up a doll and places it in the doll house, the therapist would track the child by saying, "You are picking up the doll and placing it in the house". 

2. Reflecting Feeling-Stating the emotion the child is displaying.

For example, if the child is playing out a scene where the doll is yelling, the counselor would reflect the feeling by saying, "the doll is very angry".

3. Returning Responsibility- the therapist empowers the child to make his or hers own decisions.

For example, if a child picks up a doll and says "what is this?", the therapist would return responsibility to the child by replying, "in here it can be whatever you want it to be".

Although these skills are basic, they are effective! I have been working with young students for over five years now. With the implementation of a few new toys and these basic skills I saw an increase in the quality of counseling I was able to provide to my students. Additionally, if you work with elementary age children you know that just talking does not work. Play therapy gives you a structured way to engage young children effectively. Gary Landreth, author of Play Therapy The Art of The Relationship, models these skills in this short video below:

I highly encourage you add Play Therapy The Art of The Relationship by Gary Landreth and Dibs In Search of Self by Virgina Axline to your summer reading list. Also, be sure to check out The Association for Play Therapy newly designed website if you haven't already. There are a ton of great resources for you available on this site!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Giveaway! Win $25 to!

Interested in getting new toys, puppets, games, art supplies for your office? Look no further then to get you started!
Enter the giveaway below and be eligible to win a $25 gift card!
You have until April 18th to enter. Good luck!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Notes from a Play Therapy Workshop

Do you ever use play therapy when counseling students?

As I become a more seasoned counselor I find myself drawn to play therapy theory, techniques, and application. In an effort to learn more about play therapy I attended a full day workshop at the The Play Therapy Training Institute (PTTI). The workshop was Pyschodynamic Play Therapy given by play therapy guru Heidi Kaduson

From the minute I walked into PTTI I was impressed! The institute was filled with toys, art supplies, and so many fun things for children to play with. Literally, every toy you could think of was in this space. It was VERY cool. I would imagine that any child that works with Dr. Kaduson would be thrilled to play in this space.

Some of the highlights I took away:

1. Inside/Outside Masks. Allow children to use any art supplies you have handy in your office to make a mask of their outer selves (how the world perceives them), and then flip the mask around and create their inner selves (how they feel about themselves).
2. News Network. News Network is an activity for therapist and child to role play together. The child plays an "expert" on a certain topic (grief, bullying, family issues, etc). The topic should be something the child is currently dealing with. You, as the therapist, call into the news network asking the "expert" for advice on how to handle that issue. This activity will allow you to gain insight into their world.
3. Children act out their "stuff" (grief, anxiety, depression, etc). 
It is natural to for kids to play! They use fantasy to work out the things they are experiencing. 

As give away prizes I won these cool toys to use in my office!

I love a training when I walk with BOTH concrete things to do with my students, and more knowledge about the topic. This training provided both! If you are from the tri-state area I highly suggest attending a training at the The Play Therapy Training Institute . If you are not, be sure to check out Dr. Kaduson's books.

The The Association for Play Therapy put out this adorable video a few weeks ago to celebrate National Play Therapy Awareness Week.

I'm considering becoming a registered play therapist. I would love to hear from any current play therapist, or professionals working towards their certificate. Do you feel play therapy is beneficial in your work with children? Share your thoughts below.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Got Conflict? Act Assertive!

I created this lesson to help students be assertive when they find themselves in a conflict.

The first part of the lesson focuses on defining conflict. I used this adorable video from Sesame Street. When the video is done ask students to share examples of conflict that they have experienced. Be sure to ask each student how they solved their conflict. Did they yell, hit, walk away? Did they get their way? Be sure to really emphasize how they behaved.
Next, say to the class "when we find ourselves in a conflict we can react three ways". Introduce the concept of mouse, monster, or me. Ask for three students to volunteer. Give each student a mouse, monster, or me paper to hold. Demonstrate how each one acts in the same conflict.

For example, I chose the common conflict of students cutting each other on the lunch line.  I asked the student to pretend to cut me. I acted as a mouse (very timid, didn't say anything), a monster (screaming, yelling, hitting), and me (being assertive).

Next, we move into the second half of the lesson which focuses on being assertive (acting like "me") when in conflict. We review what acting assertive means (standing up for your rights and other peoples rights in a peaceful way). I then teach students "I statements" as a tool to help them act assertive.

The lesson concludes with students acting assertive by using an "I statement" with the conflicts they shared at the beginning of the lesson.

Make extra copies of the mouse, monster, and me  handouts to leave for the classroom teacher. Kindly ask the teacher to hang them up in the room as a reminder of three reaction styles.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Great Kindness Challenge

My school took part in The Great Kindness Challenge (GKC). This was one week dedicated for students to perform acts of kindness for each other, our school, and our community.

All students received their own GKC checklist (the GKC checklist can be found on the GKC website) with 50 kind deeds to perform.  In order to spark excitement, I created a competition between homeroom classes to find out which class is the kindest. The class that completed the most acts of kindest would be crowned "the kindest class in school", and would receive a special bagel breakfast to celebrate their kindness!

Students and staff really got into the competition!  The kindest class performed 545 acts of kindness, and in total my school did over 5000 acts!

I also organized a kindness matters posters contest for students to participate in. I was overwhelmed by the amount of beautiful and thoughtful posters I received! Here are just a few examples:
The details of the poster contest can be found here.  This is a copy of the promotional flyer I sent home to families. Feel free to change them to meet your needs! 

Did your school celebrate The Great Kindness Challenge? How do you promote kindness in your building?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Peaceful Stationary!

As a holiday gift this year, my brother's amazing girlfriend, gave me this stationary set for my school counseling office. The set consists of notepads and note cards. How fabulous!? 

I cant wait to use them in 2014!