Bags of Fun (and feelings)!
This post is dedicated to another useful and creative activity that's guaranteed to be engaging for young people.
I find this activity useful during introductory sessions with a new client. It can assist in aiding rapport and helps provide a less intense environment, in which to help young people feel safe to express their feelings.
This activity can also be adapted for solo use, many might chose to make their own bag at home and use it as a means of regulating any negative thoughts at the end of a stressful day. Simply dump a concern, upset feeling or thought into the bag and deal with it when you feel ready.
This activity can also be used as a family, often it can be useful to facilitate difficult discussions and provide a platform from which to express thoughts and concerns relating to a particle issue, change in circumstance or dynamics.
I find this activity most suitable for those aged 7-13YO.
For this project you will need:
A plain white/beige paper bag.
Textured paper, felt, confetti or glitter.
Colouring pencils and pens.
Anything else crafty you can stick on a bag!
This activity is useful for young people who are resistant in being vulnerable or struggle to externalise their thoughts and feelings. It works especially well for those who are creative minded and enjoy visualising and crafting.
Within the first session I will usually ask my client to make a bag that represents them. I will then encourage them to use, pens, pencils, stickers, glitter and any other crafting materials I have on hand to create the bag's 'identity'. By the end of the session the bag should be either almost completed or completed and wear it's name, for example 'Amy'.
Within this session I will ask the young person to visualise the bag as being like their body and mind, within it lies all the experiences, thoughts, feelings and sensations that lie within them. We would then begin the process of bringing this concept to life.
Firstly, start by looking at a chart of emotions to get an idea of which one calls out to them, first often the individual will have one in mind already. I then provide the client with different coloured or patterned slips of paper to write those thoughts, feelings or experiences down on.
For some HK teens, I will make it game based as an incentive, this means setting a timer for 1 minute per emotion and have them say anything that comes to their head, which I will then write down. For those who might experience some anxiety or be less verbal I will have them take their time to write their own experiences down and pop this into the bag themselves.
Once you have given the bag a big shake (the part they enjoy the most!). I will encourage them to take a slip of paper out and discuss it, if at any point they wish to change for another slip of paper then that's ok, anything goes! If they should also prefer to leave the bag after this and are feeling ok articulating how they feel then this too is great! Often just the process alone will help them to open up, process and regulate.
As with most therapeutic activities it's best to provide as little limitations as possible and go with any ideas they have, keeping conscious of the goal in mind.
Give it a try!
If you'd like to share yours, feel free to tag us on Instagram
Amy Williams is an experienced counsellor working with pre-teens, teenagers and young adults in schools and private practice in Hong Kong, (see about Amy for more info).
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