Play is the language of children. Play is how children communicate, express, and process their world around them. This is why play therapy is a widely used and important part of children’s counselling around the world.
Play is a natural way for children to express themselves, their thoughts and their feelings.
In play, children (and adults) can externalize images stored in the right brain. Some images may have been stored in the unconscious because these images may have been overwhelming or traumatic. Play and art help us access these images in our unconscious right brain, externalize them, then put language to the stories created. This process helps to integrate the left brain and enhance feelings of comfort and resolve. Through their play, children can develop healthy neural pathways and face really tough stuff at a safe psychological distance.
Because the play is small (i.e. we are using toys, figurines, and miniatures) and metaphorical (i.e. the stories children create are often a metaphorical version of what they are experiencing in their lives), this allows the processing of tough stuff to be much more tolerable as it gives children an indirect way to safely process their struggles from a distance.
My work, as a children’s counsellor is to help support children by reflecting on their inner world through their stories, crafts, and art creations. I model self-regulation and I help children gain mastery over how to process their challenges and triumphs in life in healthy ways.
So How Do We Use Art & Play In Children’s Counselling Online?
My approach is structured, yet child led. In sessions, we go through calm down coping activities, play emotion-focused games, create stories and process the themes that arise in those stories. Together, through arts and crafts, we can also express thoughts and feelings.
I created a Virtual Children’s Counselling Space I share with children and families. During sessions, we can visually explore options for activities that are engaging, fun and interactive. This space starts out in Mindful Meadows.
In Mindful Meadows, children choose, from various resources, a calm down coping activity before heading into Cozy Cabin where there are resources for crafts, games, psycho-educational videos, music, art, and even a virtual sand tray therapy space.
For children and families who are grieving a loss, there is the Remembering Room. This space is filled with art and craft ideas to continue the important bonds they have with the loved ones they are remembering. There are also many resources on loss that will hopefully help in processing feelings of grief.
For the last part of the session, we head to the Reading Room, where we pick out an emotion-focused book to read together before blowing out a candle to make a wish.
Overall, there are 150+ emotion-based clickable resources stored in the Virtual Children’s Counselling Space and new resources will continue to be added to keep the experience fresh and fun.
Beyond the Virtual Children’s Counselling Space my work is to help you and your family:
- Build your own toolbox of healthy Calm Down Coping Activities to help cope with current and future life struggles.
- Focus on re-wiring unhelpful thoughts into more helpful thoughts.
- Work towards alleviating unhelpful feelings of anxiety.
- Build on your self-regulation and co-regulation skills.
- Work on using mindfulness, breathing, and other stress relieving activities.
- Help support you and your family with processing feeling of grief and loss. Some examples of grief and loss are: pet loss, death of a loved one, moving to a new home/place, changing schools, loss of friendships, loss of school/activities, a loss of dreams that did not come true or the loss of the life we once had that is now forever changed.
- Understand the underlying meaning behind challenging behaviours.
- Work on creative problem solving.
- Build on relational, friendship and social skills.
- Strengthen assertiveness in being able to speak up when helpful.
- Work on healthy emotional regulation.
- Build on self-confidence and confidence in your caregiver-child relationship.
- Strengthen your relationship and attachment with your child by engaging you in the process. This can also lead to faster resolutions due to the enhanced skills you will all have that can be incorporated into your daily lives together.
I believe in providing a safe, authentic, and supportive environment. With my knowledge of how to support children, active listening, reflecting skills and focused attention, combined with your active caregiver participation, we can create change together. My aim is to “pass the torch” to you by giving you as many skills and resources as I can to help support you and your family.
If you would like more information on what an online children’s counselling session would look like with me, check out this video.