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Stories and characters can help us understand our inner worlds and relationships. Here is an article written for therapists and therapy written in a Play Therapy counseling program.
In the Jungian Analytical Play Therapy technique the therapist provides 8-10 pre-selected fairy tales for the child to choose from. The therapist reads the fairy tale the child chooses. Then the therapist asks the child to draw something in the sand about the fairy tale- one meaningful image, feeling, or figure from the tale and then creates a sand tray with scene with figures. The therapist helps the child to process the child’s creation with them by asking questions such as: (a) What were you feeling when you placed x there? (b) If this symbol (or object or person) were talking, what would they be saying and to whom? If the child is under the age of 8 the therapist may ask different probing questions such as, “Let’s talk about (the object/image/symbol) and its purpose in the drawing (or sand tray). What does (the object/image/symbol) do? Where does it live?” The therapist can then analyze what the child is doing and provide a dialogue with them to help them individuate (Shaeffer, 2011).
There are a myriad of fairytales and modern mythological stories to pull from for this activity that children may already be familiar with and identify with. Harry Potter is one example, where the main character exemplifies the archetype of the orphan child (Hunt, 2006). I also found a book review with stories that held many archetypes including the Junian archetype of the child-god Hermes mentioned in my prior discussion for this Unit and the image he holds of ‘walking backwards.’ The same issue also had a review of ‘The Shadow of the Dragon,’ and a JAPT therapist could discuss with the child the shadow side of each archetype in exploring the meaning of the images they created in the sad related to the stories read in therapy. Many children and adults have an ‘orphan child’ and can benefit from working with this image in therapy as relates to Harry Potter. There is a positive and negative and individuation can occur in bringing these images to consciousness in one’s identity. Jung’s theories of the child and what became JAPT all started with his thoughts about the archetype of the child and while going through inner conflict near the end of his own life he found healing through identifying the child archetype in himself (Jung, 2009).
Hunt, Kathy. (2006). ‘Do You Know Harry Potter? Well, He is an Orphan’: Every Bereaved Child Matters. Pastoral Care in Education, Jun2006, Vol. 24 Issue 2, p39-44. 6p.
Jung, C.G. (2009). The red book. New York, NY: Norton.
Schaefer, C. (2011). Foundations of Play Therapy. 2nd Ed. Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, New Jersey
Book Review. (2010.) Library Media Connection. Jan/Feb2010, Vol. 28 Issue 4, p69-69. 1/9p.
I recently spoke at a sports center for youth about this topic.
Some ideas about what to do include:
Telling someone who is trustworthy what is the reason you are sad and addressing this with them. Having someone show they care can be very helpful.
Doing some things you enjoy; a sport or art, for example.
Listening to happy music.
Spending time with friends.
Eating healthy food and also food that you enjoy, in moderation.
Reading a good book or listening to a radio program you enjoy. Watching a good movie.
Playing a game with friends or family.
Play with or cuddle with a pet.
Cuddle with stuffed animals, blankets, pillows.
Telling yourself encouraging things. In the movie “Corina, Corina” a little girl became withdrawn and mute after her mother died. Her dad hires a nanny who helps her to cheer up and get back to life and school. Whoopi Goldberg’s character tells Molly, “Maybe they won’t like you? Are you kidding? Have you looked in the mirror today? That’s the most likeable face in America! You’re goin’ about this the wrong way. You have to think to yourself: “My name is Molly Singer and there is no one in the world better than me.” That’s what you’ve got to say to yourself. Try it!”
Mindfulness – click here for an exercise in mindfulness for kids.
Remember and think about things one is thankful for.
What other ideas can you or your kids come up with?
A great video showing a healthy way to deal with the sadness of missing a loved one in the song ‘When Somebody Loved Me’ from Toy Story II.
It is helpful to talk to someone that is trustworthy about what is causing the sadness. If a child has lost a loved one or is missing someone who is gone sometimes it is helpful to write a goodbye letter if there was not a chance to say goodbye. It is also helpful to have special times and ways to think about all the good memories of the person and to talk to a trusted person about them. A counselor, teacher, or close relative can be very helpful as well as music or a special song that reminds them of the person they love. Creating pictures and art about them or writing down the memories is a healthy way to grieve and deal with that type of sadness.
For adults- a recent book by COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg
Rachel Hofer, LMHC
Sesamie Street has made videos about important and serious topics for kids such as grief, divorce, and videos for military families and kids about deployment as well as other issues.
‘Addiction’ is a concept that is in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but not a diagnosis. Here John Mayer labels himself as a ‘recovered ego addict’. He mentions his comparison of himself with Kanye West who has just been in the news because he reportedly had a ‘breakdown’ and cancelled his tour. In some media it was said he had ‘psychosis‘ and in others ‘exhaustion’ and ‘spiritual attack.’ In the news it has been said that Donald Trump is a narcissist.
What is an ego addict, narcissist, and what is psychosis? Can these people diagnose someone in the news? Is that legal? What about ‘HIPPA’ and privacy? How can people assume they know the ins and outs of someone’s mental health and diagnose them without a professional evaluation? Did they get a second or third evaluation and why is it any of our business?
On the other hand we all have traits of certain personality disorders and I did hear also on the news that narcissistic traits make good leaders and have heard that police officers tend to have anti-social traits. We can observe some of these celebrities behaviors in news clips and tv as they present their public persona but we do not really know them and is that not what can be so difficult for the mental health of anyone with any sense of celebrity even the teen on facebook with 100 fans? The gossips and slanders as well as even worse can cause trauma, PTSD, and even drastic health problems and death in the lives of maltreated ‘celebrities.’
We often get a misrepresentation of the symptoms, realities, and life experience of people with mental illness in the media and in movies, whether it be a ‘real’ person, persona, or made up character.In this movie that came out recently people might assume, for example, that all people with Autism hit themselves, when this is a behavior that only some people with the disorder have. People may associate mental illness or particular diagnoses with violent and dangerous behavior, which is even more stigmatizing and often not the case. On the other hand, even if they do or did have these behaviors at one point, they may not have them currently or again.