Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bubble Breaths

by Karen

Evidence based literature supports that relaxation breathing is beneficial for the mental and physical well-being of children and adults.  Relaxation breathing techniques are incorporated in several therapy modalities utilized with children who are experiencing problems such as anxiety, depression and issues with anger management.  The relaxation technique of deep breathing is used within treatments such as trauma focused cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy.  Deep breathing relaxation is also beneficial for pain management.
Bubble Breaths is a very simple, inexpensive and portable technique; but most of all, it’s fun.   While enjoying blowing bubbles and building rapport with the clinician, children can learn about their anatomy and how their bodies and mood can be affected by their breathing.

Hall, T. M., Kaduson, H. G., & Schaefer, C. E. (2002). Fifteen effective play therapy techniques.
Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(6), 515-522.

Judith A. Cohen & Anthony P. Mannarino (2008). Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural
therapy for children and parents. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 13(4), 158-162.

Walco, G. A., Varni, J. W., & Ilowite, N. T. (1992). Cognitive-behavioral pain management in   
            children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  Pediatrics, 89(6), 1075-1080.

CMH Assignment Click It!

by Vanessa

The intervention I chose to undertake with my cinema star nephew was Click! Emotions.  This intervention is designed to assist children with developing emotional intelligence.  A practitioner and a child come up with a list of emotions together.  Then, the practitioner asks the child to express the emotion using their face, and the practitioner captures the child’s facial expression on a camera.  The child then describes to the practitioner the number of times he or she experiences that emotion. 

Center on the Social & Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. (2009). Fostering emotional literacy in young children: labeling emotions. Retrieved from

Lowenstein, L. (2011). Creative play therapy interventions for children and families. Retrieved from

Lowenstein, L. (2008). Assessment and Treatment Activities for Children, Adolescents, and Families: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Techniques. Canada: Hignell Book Printing.

Pollack, S.D. & Kistler, D.J. (2002). Early experience is associated with the development 
of categorical representations for facial expressions of emotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 99(13). 9072–9076.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fly By Design

by Val

The intervention that I spoke about in my video assignment was a technique used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  This technique demonstrates how thoughts and feelings impact actions, and that by changing thoughts, it is possible to change behavior.  This therapeutic method can be used with children as well as adults, and in groups or working with individuals.

The Fly By Design activity is part of an evidence based curriculum developed by Dr.Harvey Milkman and Dr. Kenneth Wanberg (2005).  In this activity, participants make a paper airplane and fly it.  The instructor notes how far the plane flies.  After this, participants are asked to make a second airplane and are encouraged to modify it.  The planes represent thoughts and the distance represents actions taken.  Metaphorically, one’s thoughts control one’s actions, just as the plane design controls the distance that the plane travelled.  By changing the design (or thoughts), the participant is able to control the plane (or actions).


Milkman, D. H., & Wanberg, D. K. (2005). Pathways to Self-Discovery and Change: Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lego Therapy - Social Skills Intervention for Children with High Functioning Autism & Aspergers Syndrome

by Kalea

Lego Therapy is a social skills intervention that motivates children to work together by dividing the tasks into different roles. One child is the Engineer (describing instructions), another child is the supplier (finds the correct pieces), and another child is the builder (puts the pieces together). This intervention showed a reduction in maladaptive behavior and improvement in their socialization and communication. 


Owens, G., Granader, Y., Humphrey, A., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2008). LEGO ® Therapy and the Social Use of Language Programme: an evaluation of two social skills interventions for children with high functioning autism and Asperger syndrome. Journal Of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 38(10), 1944-1957. doi:10.1007/s10803-008-0590-6

Magic Key Activity

by Miranda

Sometimes when children have experienced loss, they may not be able to express their feelings. The "Magic Key" can be used to help children become more open about their feelings of loss. This technique can be used to encourage more discussion about the child's feelings of loss. This drawing can help facilitate dialogue to help the healing process. 

References:  source: David A. Crenshaw Published in Assessment & Treatment Activities for Children, Adolescents, and Families Vol. 1

Crenshaw, D.A. & J.B. Mordock. (2005). Handbook of Play Therapy with Aggressive Children. New York: Jason Aronson.

Crenshaw, D.A. & J. Garbarino. (2007). “The Hidden Dimensions: Profound Sorrow and Buried Human Potential in Violent Youth.” Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 47, 160-174.

Crenshaw, D.A. & K.V. Hardy. (2005). “Understanding and Treating the Aggression of Traumatized Children in Out-of-Home Care.” In N. Boyd-Webb, ed., Working with Traumatized Youth in Child Welfare, pp. 171-195. New York: Guilford.

All Tangled Up: Identifying Feelings and Strategies to Cope With Anxiety

by Alli

This video demonstrates an intervention that can be done with children who suffer from anxiety. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, 8 percent of teenagers ages 13-18 have an anxiety disorder with the symptoms emerging around age 6. All children experience some anxiety. Treatment is only necessary if the anxiety becomes severe enough to interfere with the child’s normal activities.  Interventions can help when children are feeling overwhelmed and make their anxieties more manageable.

This intervention is called “All Tangled Up” and the idea of the intervention is to help the child externalize their worry and to show them that using one of these strategies can help calm themselves down and eliminating their anxious feelings. This intervention could be done by a social worker or the child’s parents.


Cavett, A. M. (2009). Playful trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy w/maltreated children and adolescents. Play Therapy, 20-22. Retrieved from download.cfm ?ID=28212

Children’s mental health awareness: Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents fact sheet.      National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from

Facts for families: The anxious child. American Academy of Child & Adolescents Pyschiatry. Retrieved from

Lowenstein, L. (2011). Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolscents, and Families:      Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Interventions. Toronto, Ontario: Champion Press. Retrieved from

It's My Life CD

by Kelly

Summary:  When working with adolescent clients it can sometimes be a challenge for that client to feel comfortable opening up about their feelings and emotions.  One simple intervention that can be utilized is creating an It's My Life CD.  This activity helps create a starting point for conversation and can be a tool for future discussions. 
The client will create their own CD (Title, Cover Design, Song List, etc) and can be very vague related to any part of their life, or more specific relating to treatment issues.

Assessment and Treatment Activities for Children, Adolescents, and   Families: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Techniques, ed. L. Lowenstein. Toronto: Champion Press. 

Smith, J. (2008). It’s My Life CD. In Lowenstein, L. Creative Play Therapy Interventions for Children and Families.

You're a Star

by Lacy

The video briefly explains a simple activity for a therapist to use with a child to increase the child's awareness of people that love, care about, and help them. The activity is called "You're A Star" and can also be used as a method of coping with future emotional issues that the child may encounter.

This is an activity that is described in more detail in Liana Lowenstein's "Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolescents, and Families: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Interventions" which can be accessed at:

Robinson, N.S. (1995). Evaluating the nature of perceived support and its relation to perceived self-worth in adolescents. Journal of Research in Adolescence, 5, (2), 253-280.

Colored Candy Go Around

by Allison

It can be challenging to engage children in initial therapy sessions. Colored Candy Go Around is a creative way to gather information about the client and their family and begin to open up communication as well as identify goals for therapy. This is an activity can also be used to engage children during initial group sessions. Questions can be easily modified to fit each family or group situation.

Arkell,  Katherine (2010). Published in Assessment and Treatment Activities for Children, Adolescents and Families, Vol 2. Edited by Lowenstein, L.

Kazdin, A. E., Holland, L., & Crowley, M. (1997). Family experience of barriers to treatment and premature termination from child therapy. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 65(3), 453-463.

Butterflies in My Stomach

by Andria

Play therapy has been proven to be an effective intervention when working with children facing stressors in their life (Cochran, Cochran, Fuss, and Nordling, 2010).  Play therapy creates a non-threatening environment where a child is able to engage in self-expression (Cochran et al., 2010).  Often times, when children present themselves for therapy they are initially unwilling to share directly their thoughts and feelings (Lowenstein, 2011).  However, the use of play therapy can break down this reluctance and create an outlet for the child to express his or her feelings and emotions (Lowenstein, 2010).  Therapists who effectively use play therapy can have very productive sessions with children.  One play therapy intervention that is particularly effective is an activity named “Butterflies in My Stomach” (Lowenstein, 2011).


Cochran, J. L., Cochran, N. H., Fuss, A., & Nordling, W. J.  (2010).  Outcomes and stages of child-centered play therapy for a child with highly disruptive behavior driven by self-concept issues.  Journal of humanistic counseling, education and development, 49(2), 231-246.

Lowenstein, L.  (2011). Creative play therapy interventions for children and families.  Retrieved from

First Session Family Card Game

 by Breanna
Therapeutic techniques that engage all family members can be difficult to find and use in family therapy sessions. The First Session Family Card Game is designed to engage the entire family in the therapeutic process and in communicating with each other.
This game allows for questions that can be used to understand and observe the dynamics of the family present in therapy which can later be helpful in treatment planning. The questions are created with the purpose of family joining in mind. They also are helpful in allowing families to realize what their goals for treatment consist of. The First Session Family Card Game also includes opportunities for positive interactions between family members such as hugs and small treats further help to engage family members in the therapeutic process.

The First Session Family Card Game can be modified to fit other situations as well. For instance, the questions can be adapted so that the game could be used in a family’s last session of therapy. These questions would focus on the gains the family achieved through the therapeutic process, as well as, what they learned from their sessions and what the therapist learned from them. The game and questions can also be modified to fit specific target populations such as children for children who are experiencing loss or grief.

Chasin, R., & White, T. B. (1989). The child in family therapy: Guidelines for active engagement across the age span.

Gil, E. (1994). Play in family therapy. The Guilford Press.

Lowenstein, Liana (2006). Creative Interventions for Bereaved Children. Toronto, ON: Champions Press.

Lowenstein, Liana & Sprunk, Trudy Post (2010). Creative Family Therapy Techniques: Play and Art-Based Activities to Assess and Treat Families.

Lowenstein, Liana (Ed.) (2010). Creative Family Therapy Techniques: Play, Art and Expressive Therapies to engage children in family sessions. Toronto, ON: Champion Press.