Many pre-teens and teens feel misunderstood by adults and they are likely to assume that therapists won't understand them either. They may also feel nervous about seeing a therapist, thinking that they will be questionned and criticized about how they live their lives. So, it is very important for therapists to know how to work with pre-teens and teens to help them feel understood and safe.
I help pre-teens and teens to feel safe in session, open up about their issues, gain self-awareness, learn better coping skills, and figure out ways to express negative emotions in socially acceptable ways. Knowing that most of them enjoy doing hands-on activities as they talk, which allows them to better express themselves and feel less self-conscious, I provide them the option to use expressive arts and sandtray while we work together.
For some pre-adolescents and adolescents, art is a fun way to express themselves, which makes it a great tool to use in therapy. Working with their hands during the session can make it easier to talk about their struggles. Pre-teens and teens can also use art to express their feelings, thoughts, struggles, hopes, and aspects of their lives that may be difficult to verbalize.
Sandtray is a technique that is used to help people express and process their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. In sandtray therapy, people are encouraged to use miniatures (people, fantasy creatures, animals, buildings, objects from nature etc.) to create a world in the sandtray that symbolizes their problems, wishes, fears, or any other topic that may help with the therapy process.
Using symbols helps to feel safer while expressing
experiences and thoughts that are too scary or painful to express. Sandtray also helps bring things to people's awareness that they may not be aware of previously.