What Feelings Are In Your Heart: An Art Therapy Exercise for Kids

Art therapy is an extension to talk therapy which may be helpful in the exploration of one’s feeling through visual expression in the absence of words. One of my favorite worksheets for kids that I’ve made is called “Feelings Heart”. The objective of this intervention is to allow children to develop vocabulary and identification of feelings to promote healthy expression of emotion. This exercise also serves as an open ended question about how the child views their world at the moment. It can also be used as an assessment tool and progress can be tracked by repeating the exercise and recording and comparing results.

Feelings Heart j.001


The way I use this exercise is to explain that everyone has feelings or emotions and this is normal. I explain that there is no right or wrong way to do this exercise. I help the child brainstorm and list the emotions they can think of and suggest some that may be missing from their lexicon. If a child is particularly hesitant, I may also do a feelings heart along with them or include a parent for modeling.

Using crayons, colored pencils, or markers, I have the child choose what colors match each emotion for them. For example, angry might be red or sad might be blue. Then the child colors in how much of their heart is feeling that emotion right now.

This information is then used as a conversation starter. I have also used this in family sessions as a way to promote communication of feelings.

Here’s a completed feelings heart that I’ve done as an example:

feelings heart completed

According to Artherapyjournal.org,

“While children can often benefit from therapy, especially if they have mental health problems or disabilities, they may find it scary or difficult to properly express themselves in a clinical setting. This is particularly true for young children who generally have limited vocabularies and those that don’t speak the primary language in the country where they live. In addition to or in lieu of standard therapy methods, kids can use art to communicating their thoughts and feelings to the adults who want to help them deal with their life challenges.

Art therapy is a psychotherapy wherein patients use art in varying ways. The most common way is to escape from the stress of illness or disability. It is also used as a symbolic language. With the help of the therapist, the child deciphers the meaning of the picture and discusses the underlying issues that inspired the artwork. No matter how it is used, art therapy can be a creative outlet for children struggling with the circumstances of their lives.” Read Full Article

6 Ways to Avoid Facebook Misery

Ever feel jealous, angry, or sad after looking at someone’s Facebook updates? Ever posted something that you regretted later? Ever cringe when you see a friend post something way too personal for the whole world wide web to see?

I think we have all had some level of Facebook drama at one time or another, but social networking sites can actually cause significant mental health symptoms for some people. Check out this study that showed the more time a person spent on Facebook, the less happy and less satisfied they tended to be.

facebook dramaHere are some tips to help you avoid becoming miserable while using social media:

1. Monitor your overall use. Sounds simple, but you may be surprised by how much time you actually spend online. Over 3/4 of Facebook users login every day to check their account. Most spend at least 45 minutes a day.

2. Consider disabling Facebook on your smart phone. If your phone allows a Facebook app that sends you alerts, you are more likely to get sucked into Facebook activity, even if you aren’t sitting down at your computer.

3. Get your needs met in healthier ways. If you find yourself posting updates in order to get sympathy from others, you run the risk of being disappointed by a lack of a response or pushing others away. No one likes to constantly see pessimistic rants from their friends. Misery loves company, but it can also be emotionally draining to be around negative people.

4. Stop comparing yourself to others. Easier said than done, right? One of the main reasons people get down while spending time on Facebook is that it can be a constant arena for social competition. Cute babies, advanced degrees, new cars, fitness goals achieved and vacations are all happy occasions that people love to share. If we are prone to jealousy or self-doubt, it is easy to feel less-than by comparing how we stack up against others. A key sign that you are getting too much Facebook time is when you stop sharing in others’ joys and start feeling resentful or jealous.

5. Think before you post. Try to avoid posting when your emotional brain is active and your logical brain has taken the day off. If you anticipate an evening of drinking or drug use, disable your access to Facebook. Worst case scenario: you can always delete an unflattering post, but sometimes even a short-lived post can be damaging. Nowadays, many employers search Facebook to find information about job applicants or current employees.

6. Be careful who you befriend. My own policy is that I don’t accept friend requests from people I’ve never met in person and I never accept friend requests from current or former clients. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid those who hold positions of power over you, like your boss or supervisors. Facebook also allows you to block certain people from your posts.

Facebook can be a great way to connect with friends we otherwise don’t see because life just gets in the way sometimes. Just make sure it serves a positive purpose in your life and doesn’t cause you distress. If you find yourself getting irritable or bummed out due to Facebook, take a time out and connect with the real-world for a moment. Social media and networking sites can be great, but there simply is no substitute for sunshine, nature, physical exercise, and face to face connection.

4 Reasons Knitting May Help Keep You Sane

Can knitting help keep you sane? Homesteading seems to be a part of hipster culture nowadays. It’s not uncommon to see young folks interested in canning their own food, planting urban gardens, and knitting their own clothing. Knitting can be more than just a hip thing to do, however.  There’s actually some interesting research out there on the mental health benefits of knitting or crocheting.

Here are some of the ways knitting has been demonstrated to help with stress relief:

1. Alpha-waves.

Knitting tends to heighten the brain’s alpha-wave output. These are brain waves that are seen when a person is fully awake but in a relaxed, blissful, and addictive state.  They also can occur during yoga, meditation, and even after smoking a cigarette.  This explains why many knitters say it helps them to de-stress and why many keep returning to knitting for coping time and time again. BATH_GEN_RE_KnitAndNatter

2. It’s tactile.

There’s soft yarn, rough yarn, fuzzy yarn, thick yarn, thin yarn, you name it.  Just handling yarn can be relaxing for some people. Combine that with the repetitive motions and counting and you can see how knitting is really quite sensory. Finished products can range from silky smooth to bumpy and puffy. Imagine touching something you made yourself that feels really great!

3. Challenges, problem solving, and growth.

Once you’ve made a scarf, a hat seems like a good challenge.  Next thing you know, you are making sweaters and blankets- increasing your skills and taking small (or big) leaps in the difficulty of your projects, which can be very rewarding.  Knitting also gives you an opportunity to fix mistakes in your projects and you are forced to do so with patience and attention to detail. If you are changing a pattern, you will find yourself growing in your ability to use problem solving skills, basic math, and creativity.  Practicing challenges, problem solving, and fixing mistakes could improve how you cope with real-life/non-yarn dilemmas too.

4. Pride and spreading the knitted gospel.

If you have ever made a yarn project, you remember feeling proud of what you accomplished at one point or another. I still remember how pleased I was with myself when I made a simple square pot holder as one of my first projects over 4 years ago. A 2010 survey found that the average knitter has taught about 8.5 people how to knit as well, making knitting a social activity that folks get excited about sharing.  Gift giving is the primary reason for knitting for about 13% of people in the same survey, again sharing and accomplishment are highlighted.

How can knitting be used in therapy?

Therapists can encourage clients who knit to use knitting as a coping skill during times of stress. “Knit to Quit” and similar programs teach clients to use knitting as an alternative to substance abuse, particularly cigarette smoking.

Therapists can ask clients to bring in a piece of work and talk about why they like it, what it means to them, etc.

Therapists can help clients with feelings identification and mood tracking by having them knit using a color or yarn type that relates to how they felt emotionally for that day. I’ve seen this done with projects like blankets where clients can add a row per day using different colors.

Therapists can allow clients to bring in projects that would help them focus during sessions-either a completed project they can touch or play with to calm them down or an easy project they can knit while talking.

Do you knit for stress relief? Have you ever used knitting as a therapeutic intervention?

Exit mobile version