play and creativity
Creative play is an important outlet for children in therapy because it allows them to express feelings and ideas that are too difficult to communicate verbally. Play and activity also ease the pressure and anxiety of being alone in a room with a new person. Gradually the need to play lessens and, as trust develops, the child begins to explore the relationship more directly.
In the beginning I let the child know (in age appropriate language) that their sessions are confidential and I give them an empty box of their own. This box is where they will store whatever art work they produce during their sessions. The box is only seen by the child and myself, and is left with me for the week in between sessions.
This concept is commonly used in child (and art) therapy. The purpose is to give the client an opportunity to create, freely, without the need to sensor their work in order to please others. Instead, their art work is reflected upon and accepted without judgement, then left for the therapist to hold and contain.
The final session
When the course of therapy comes to an end, it is crucial that a child feels they have the autonomy to choose what happens to their work. This means thinking with them about their box, and whether it should be left with me or taken home for the rest of the world to see.
Children tend not to want their family to see the work and so choose to leave their box behind. The possibility of returning when they are older, and revisiting their work, is always there.