To add to this concept, students can make small 3-D clouds with string attached, write their feelings on the cloud, and watch the cloud float away (I hide it in a cupboard in my office, but you can always just walk away with the cloud for the student's visual memory). It can be helpful to hang the clouds in the office so students can "notice" the clouds whenever they visit (if your security alarm won't go off at night, of course!). Discussions can occur about how feelings can linger (i.e., storm clouds of anger that we feed, overcast clouds of enduring sadness), as well as what coping skills might be utilized to notice feelings without judgement and to encourage emotions to pass rather than linger.
I have read about identity maps as a tool that students can create completely on their own, but I have not done this yet. As I speak with a new student or one who may be seeing me individually, I either draw the map or have the student do it (depending on their age and ability). This helps me to get a better overall picture of the person with whom I am working. I also find that the visual focus and casual conversation centered on the student's every day life helps them to relax and build relationship with me as their counselor. Sometimes I ask what makes them most happy, sad, and frustrated, which can provide a great deal of information to me as the counselor. When I write the map, younger students often ask to add pictures to the map as we talk, which seems to bring further ownership to the process.
During my elementary internship, the first grade teacher team had students create self portraits of their face. Students were instructed to fold the page into eighths. The chin was drawn at the one quarter fold, the mouth at the half, and the eyes around the three quarter fold. Students could choose the colors and the background. As I walked past the results, I found some striking representations in the students' choices of color, sizes of features, and location of features. I have since used this with students in counseling sessions and continue to marvel at the conversations that ensue after completion of their art work.
self as superhero
My soapbox: we do not allow children nearly enough space, time, or opportunity to imagine and create. This may be one of the most therapeutic techniques we can offer as counselors.
I find it most successful when the counseling office has a wide variety of art materials readily on hand:
* crayons, colored pencils, markers, oil crayons
* a variety of magazines & print materials
* a variety of paper (weight, color, size, etc)
* a scrap bucket full of treasures
* yarn, string, beads
* glue, mod-podge, tape,
* scissors (regular & craft styles)
* anything your crafty heart desires!