‘Talking through Toys’ is a gentle yet powerful way for children to express themselves and receive the help they need in a positive, non-judgemental environment.
After observing a significant decrease in the age of our clientele, Student Care Welfare QLD Inc. identified the need for a program designed to assist the very young (approximately 4 to 9 year olds) to verbalise their thoughts and feelings in a non-threatening environment.
Children who have experienced trauma often find it difficult to confront their problems, so the counsellors from SCWQ went about creating this model for us. By combining already established practices such as play therapy with a wealth of experience, the SCWQ counsellors designed an innovative program, which has been proven highly effective time and time again.
Children can sometimes have trouble articulating what they want to say, particularly when talking with an adult in a counselling environment – often they can be afraid to speak openly and honestly as they are afraid of getting into trouble or ‘saying the wrong thing.’ Additionally, many children find their issues too painful to talk about.
In many of these situations, the child can hide behind one of a number of huge teddy bears and the counsellor then addresses his/her conversation to the bear. By doing this, the children are able to talk through the toys – removing many anxieties which often leave them feeling vulnerable. Essentially, they are able to detach from the responsibility of what they are saying. ‘Talking through Toys’ enables the child to tell their story in a safe environment.
By role playing different scenarios using the toys, children can play out their experiences and gain insight into their own feelings. With the counsellor asking such things as “I wonder why that dog is sitting away from the other animals?” or “I wonder what he might be feeling at the moment?” – “What might the bear say or do when the other bear bullies him?” or “has there been a time when you have found yourself in a similar situation?”- techniques such as reframing can be used to help the child to see the world from different perspectives. The children can actually move the toys around and practice new and alternative behaviours to ‘see how it feels’ and to imagine what it might be like if they did that in real life. The counsellor can then role play the scenarios with the child and practice the skills required for the child to feel more empowered and confident in real life.