Blog Entry Submitted by: Lindsey Joiner
Hi blog readers,
My name is Lindsey Joiner. I’m the author of The Big Book of Therapeutic Activities for Children and Teens: Inspiring Arts-Based Activities and Character Education Curricula and The Big Book of Even More Therapeutic Activities for Children and Teens: Inspiring Arts-Based Activities and Character Education Curricula. I am an LPC in Mississippi as well as a National Certified Counselor and National Certified School Counselor. I have a wide variety of experience in community mental health, education, and private practice. I was thrilled when Danny contacted me and asked me to write an article for his fantastic blog.
Although I have a lot of experience now, these books were born out of my desperation as a new counselor conducting day treatment groups. I had received great training in my graduate programs and thought I had a pretty good handle on counseling theory, but the first day I conducted a day treatment group, I quickly realized I had no idea what to do with a group of 9 children or teens for 2 to 5 hours a day. I went and ordered all of the therapeutic activity books that I could find to try to find something to do to manage behavior in my groups and fill our time together with meaningful activities. Almost all of the books I found were either filled with worksheets or scripts to talk through as a group. While I did manage to get the behavior of the group members under control and fill the time, I noticed that all of the participants were miserable. They didn’t want to come sit in group for 2 hours after school and do more worksheets. I started try to find activities and games that they would enjoy that were also therapeutic at the same time. I began to look at ordinary art activities and games and think about how I could change it or spin it to teach a therapeutic concept. As I introduced more and more of these activities, I found that participants started wanting to come to group. Attendance and participation improved and the lessons really seemed to stick with the participants.
Most children and teens (and adults as well) do not learn well through sitting and doing worksheets. The arts-based activities in my books teach a wide variety of therapeutic skills including anger management, conflict resolution, positive thinking, following directions, and social skills through the use of ordinary and readily available materials. For example, one of the group activities allows the group to create anger control totem poles. Each group member takes a short quiz to identify their anger management style (which corresponds to an animal). The group members then create their animals (using templates providing in the book) while discussing different styles of anger and anger management strategies. After each group member has created their animal, a totem pole is created. This is so much more fun and meaningful than sitting and completing a worksheet on anger management.
I want to thank Danny for inviting me to contribute to his blog. If you are interested in purchasing my books, they are available at amazon.com as well as many other online retailers. I am also available for conferences and presentations. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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