If you follow me on facebook, you know I recently began using a new tool for working with young kids coping with divorce. It’s Liana Lowenstein’s new book- Cory Helps Kids Cope with Divorce: Playful Therapeutic Activities for Young Children. Love it!
Cory is a child featured in the book who is coping with his parent’s divorce. The book is layed out so the child can create a scrapbook/journal over the course of their sessions. Cory experiences many of the problems children have when their parents divorce, such as feeling responsible for the divorce, adjusting to two homes, accepting a new type of family, and feelings of sadness, anger, and anxiety. Having the boy, Cory, as part of the book normalizes and validates the feelings kids have and introduces these issues in a fun and child-friendly way. There are also letters for the parents at the end of each chapter to keep the parents involved, informed, and help carry over the lessons learned in session into the home.
Here are a few activities in the book I really enjoyed:
Balloon Bounce: This is an activity for the first session to help build the rapport between the therapist and client. I often use games or a child-centered approach, but the balloon activity was actually really fun! Here is an explanation pulled from the first chapter:
“Let’s play a game to get to know each other better. It’s called Balloon Bounce. I’m gong to throw the balloon in the air and we’re going to work together to try to keep it in the air without it touching the ground. When the balloon falls to the ground we’re going to freeze our bodies. I’m going to ask you a question to get to know you better. Once you answer the question, you get to ask me something to get to know me better. (You can ask me the same question I asked you, or you can make up your own question that will help you get to know me better.” We’ll play five rounds so we can ask each other five questions to get to know each other better.”
Upsetting Situations: There are several pages of “Upsetting Situations” to go through with the child using puppets to reinforce the message. I like these because the many scenarios that children endure are addressed here in a clear, child-friendly way.
(You can read a few examples on the picture, but since it’s hard to see I also wrote one below )
When you are with Mom you miss Dad. You are afraid to tell Mom you miss Dad. When you are with Dad you miss Mom. You are afraid to tell Dad you miss Mom.
It’s important for you to know: It’s normal and ok to miss dad when you are not with him. It’s normal and ok to miss mom when you are not with her.You can tell Mom when you miss Dad. You can tell Dad when you miss Mom. You can talk to Mom and Dad about whatever you are feeling. Your feelings are most important!
Have the Mom and Dad puppet say to you:
You can talk to us about whatever you are feeling. We will try to help you feel better.
There are many features of this book I enjoy and recommend it for any therapist working with children! For those of you who have this one too, what is your favorite feature?