Featured Technique

Featured Technique

Add to your repertoire of creative therapeutic interventions with this original technique.

Please be sure to print this page as the technique below will be replaced by a new technique each month.

Printable form of current Featured Technique can be attained here.

CAUTION: THIS TECHNIQUE IS FOR USE BY MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WITH SPECIALIZED TRAINING IN CLINICAL WORK WITH CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.



Resiliency Envelope

Source: Debbie Johnson


Recommended Age Range: Seven and up
Treatment Modality: Individual, Group, Family

Goals

  • Verbally express feelings regarding major life changing events
  • Articulate how one can manage change/disruptions in the family life cycle
  • Build resiliency in children, individuals and families
  • Utilize appropriate coping skills when faced with difficult situations

Materials

  • Markers
  • Large envelopes
  • Colored paper

Description
The practitioner asks the client to choose a colored paper that represents how he/she is feeling since the life event happened that changed his/her family circumcunstances. For example, colors such as blue or red may be chosen because blue represents sadness and red represents anger. The practitioner may ask the client suggested questions to promote a discussion about the client’s feelings regarding the major life event such as:

  1. Why did you choose this color?
  2. How does this color help describe how you feel about the major life event?
  3. How does this color change the way you see your life?
  4. What does this color tell you about how you are managing this major life event?
  5. Would you like this color to change to another color as time passes? If so which color?

The client writes responses to the above questions on the chosen colored piece of paper. The client then places the colored piece of paper into an envelope. The client is then asked to discuss ways to cope with this change. The practitioner can ask the client coping questions such as:

  1. Who do you talk to you when you have a problem or a worry?
  2. What/who helps you the most when you have a problem or a worry?
  3. What did you learn about yourself as a result of this change?
  4. What can you do to help yourself feel better about this change?
  5. What are you doing or can you start doing to help yourself?

Discussion
This activity highlights the therapeutic value of talking about problems and the strengths that clients have to cope with their problems. Parents are able to hear children describe the impact this problem has had on them and their family in their own words.

Many people feel insecure and question their ability to cope after a major life-changing event. The envelope acts as a metaphor to illustrate the protective factors/strengths that clients can focus on to help them overcome this situation. This rich discussion emphasizes that distressing life events offer opportunities for growth and allow people to bounce back from upsetting life circumstances.

About The Authors
Debbie Johnson, MSW, RSW. Is a Registered Social Worker who provides outpatient Family Counseling at Aisling Discoveries Child and Family Centre, a children’s mental health center in Toronto, Canada. In addition she has also provided Brief Treatment counseling at the What’s Up Walk-In Clinic at East Metro Youth Services.

2015, Debbie Johnson. All rights reserved.

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