Using art & make-believe to move through trauma

Maggie Kline, LMFT School Psychologist & Therapist, shares advice for parents on how using art and make-believe can be an effective tool to help young kids move through trauma
The Benefits Of Using Art & Make-Believe To Help Kids Through Trauma
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Using art & make-believe to move through trauma

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I love using art and make believe, and teaching parents how to do that to work with trauma, because both are natural vehicles for children. One of the things I love to do is have the child make a gingerbread person. They can add hands and feet and fingers, but to make a wide body, so they can color in their sensations and their feelings with different colors. I think there’s a Dr. Seuss book called My Many Colored Days, and children begin to identify how they’re feeling and communicated to their parents by drawing the colors inside. So I’ll give you an example. Like if they’re feeling sad because they just had a loss, they might color a lot of blue around their heart. If they’re feeling scared, they might color jittery lines around their tummy, if they’re feeling butterflies. If they’re feeling happy, in their feet, they might draw like a pink color and their feet dancing. Then they can start to tell the parents how they’re feeling by describing what they just drew, and it’s a wonderful way to have children begin to – Not only be mindful of what’s happening inside, in their sensations, in their emotions, but also it’s a way for parents to understand because they want to know what’s going on inside the children, and this is a perfect window into the children’s experience.

Maggie Kline, LMFT School Psychologist & Therapist, shares advice for parents on how using art and make-believe can be an effective tool to help young kids move through trauma

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Maggie Kline, LMFT

School Psychologist & Therapist

Maggie Kline has been a marriage, family, and child therapist for almost 30 years, and is a retired school psychologist.  After beginning her professional career as a teacher in 1970, Maggie has continued to garner vast experience with children of all ages from pre-schoolers through teens. She uses Somatic Experiencing (SE) with individuals, couples and families in psychotherapy. She also integrates SE with art, dream work and play when helping youngsters recover from trauma. Maggie is a senior faculty member for the SE Trauma Institute, currently teaching on five continents. She has co-authored two books (listed below) with Peter A. Levine which have been translated into 11 languages,  and has also written "It Won't Hurt Forever", which was published in Mothering  Magazine in 2002.  Most recently, Maggie has originated two seminars for professionals who help traumatized children:  "SE for Kids, A Games-Based Approach" and "Conscious Connections, Providing Reparative Opportunities for Healthy Attachment". She has presented her work in schools and agencies, at conferences, and in mass disaster settings such as the Southeast Asian Tsunami and the Oslo Massacre.

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