Termination of play therapy services can be difficult for the counselor and the child. The relationship formed during the months of therapy is one of the most important aspects of the process. Termination activities differ across settings: some offices provide certificates and some simply said good bye.
Last month, I discussed the pros and cons of using a treasure box as a termination for individual sessions. Today, I will share a termination activity that has been quite popular in my office. ‘
The truth is that it is also a goal setting activity. So, you can use it at the beginning and the end of therapy.
It started way back in January 2016….I like to call it the Chain of Intentions.
The Inspiration for This Termination Activity
The Chain of Intentions was inspired by a commercial that I watched about the My Intent Project. According to their webpage,
We believe there is purpose inside each of us and we want our efforts to encourage people to share more truth and inspiration with each other. We are not a jewelry company – we are an intentions project-My Intent Project
Despite their claim not to be a jewelry company, they do in fact, make jewelry. The customer chooses a word of inspiration to have marked on a disc and uses that as inspiration or motivation in their daily life.
(Note…I have no affiliation with the My Intent project and have received no financial compensation from them…this is purely background).
So, I ordered one with my intention for my play therapy practice for 2016.
My word was FOCUS.
Focus on PLAY THERAPY.
See, I have a habit of saying yes to all opportunities. Those things were taking me away from my core mission which was to use play therapy to help children deal with trauma or other difficulties at home or in school.
I needed to FOCUS.
But, because I could not buy a necklace as a termination gift for each or my clients, I came up with a way to create a chain of intentions with all of the (willing) clients and students that came to my office in 2016.
Chain of Intention Instructions:
- I started by tying a very long piece of yarn to the air ducts in my office to form a string that went from one end of my office to the other. You could do this by tying it to a nail or a hook of any kind.
- Cut out strips of construction paper by folding in half vertically and then folding in half again. You will get 4 strips for each standard sheet.
- Using a marker, I wrote my word FOCUS and made the first circle around the piece of yarn. It was very sad and lonely all by itself.
- As children noticed it and started to ask about it, I told them the story about the necklace that I just told you. Now..even though I said this was a termination activity, it can also be a treatment goal activity.
- If a child wanted to create an intention as a treatment plan goal, I allowed them to make a strip with a word about what they wanted to achieve during their therapy visits. Children choose things like listen, happy, create, design, friends. Make sure that the intention is positive. So no chains that say “Stop, no, don’t.”
- I had the child stand on a chair and link their strip onto mine (or the last one up) and then staple it themselves so that their word of intention was visible.
- At the end of therapy, the child would either create another strip (or do one for the first time if they were not interested in doing a goal strip) that said what they learned during the therapy. Or sometimes, it was a benefit or just something they wanted to continue working on. Their INTENTION after our services ended. Some wrote happy, friends, joy, connection, success. Again, I had the child write the word, put it up and staple it themselves.
- If children were too young to spell, they tried their best. Or they drew a picture. Sometimes, I wrote the word down and they copied it.
Thoughts on Termination
The end result was a way for them to leave something behind. A testament to the power of therapy and the work that was accomplished. A motivation for other children that success was possible. And a vision for their future about what could help guide them after therapy was over.
My goal was to get from one side of the room to the other. It took the entire year. My office is big! But as it grew, it became a fixture in the office and I am excited to take it down and start again. And a little sad to see it go. I am thinking that I can use it as a garland for my office Christmas tree. A symbolic way to honor the work of the year and transition into the intentions for 2017.
I’ve been thinking about a word for 2017….the one that keeps popping up is GLOBAL. Stay tuned to see how that develops over the next year.
Please leave me a comment with your one-word intention for 2017!