January 17, 2018

That is the name of Holly Willard’s coloring book and the subject of her course Sexual Abuse Treatment Methods Using Play Therapy from the 2017 Play Therapy Summit.

Holly takes this topic very seriously and it is obvious during her heartfelt presentation that sexual abuse prevention is one of her passions.

And that’s because she knows the statistics.  You probably do to:

  • 1 in 4 girls will be sexually abused
  • 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused
  • 75% percent of perpetrators are well known to the child

I even created a nifty little graphic to remind everyone of those numbers.

For Those Who Love Resources

If you are a fan of directive play therapy interventions and techniques, then Holly’s course Sexual Abuse Treatment Methods Using Play Therapy is right up your alley.

I have not counted them all but I know there are at least a dozen different resources and play therapy techniques included in her course.

Her coloring book, You Are Amazing, is just one page after another of directive interventions.  But she is not just promoting her book.  She is genuinely promoting relationship enhancing techniques that also build self esteem and resiliency.

And she knows of tons of resources.

My absolute favorite are these Superhero finger tatoos that she uses from Amazon (no affiliate links here…just sharing).

You get more tatoos than capes, so Holly recommends using construction paper for capes to stretch the value.

She uses them to talk about all the characteristics about the child that make them super.

It’s a cool way to build the self-esteem and talk about the special powers they have.

See 5 More Resources from her course in the  Facebook  group today.

It’s still all about the relationship

Holly shares so many directive play therapy strategies in her course, but at the end of they day, she really wants people to remember that what they are doing is enough.

You can have all sorts of cool books.

There are dozens more cool techniques that you can use.

But, she reminds us that many of these play-based interventions came FROM children DURING sessions.  It was through a child’s ability to be vulnerable in sessions that many directive play therapy interventions were created.

And Holly (and I) want you to remember that you are doing good work.

And as Holly says,

“JUST KEEP PLAYING AND DOING THE GOOD WORK THAT YOU’RE DOING.   BE THERE WITH THE CHILD AND THAT IS GOING TO BE WHAT THEY NEED.”

Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

  • Thank you so much for your dedication to kids and us in the field!!! You are amazing and I am truly blessed to have “found” you and your spirit of giving.

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