Book Review- Creative Interventions

Creative Interventions With Children: A Transtheoretical Approach, edited by: Jeff Chang brings together a number of skilled clinicians and educators in a collaborative work of research and practice approaches in play therapy with children.  In the forward introduction, Jeff Chang highlights that the approaches and practices are the tools that encourage change for children in therapy; however, it is the relationship with the therapist that enhances and solidifies the process of change.   His enthusiasm and appreciation for child play therapy is inherent throughout the book as he writes, “this book is exciting to me because it emulates how most child and family therapists’ work— they create and “steal” ideas from others, and integrate these ideas into their work”.  He highlights the balance therapists create in maintaining their theoretical approach and integrating this knowledge into utilizing and creating interventions designed to appeal to children, youth, families and other counselling clients whose learning and healing style requires such creativity.  The Creative Intervention with Children edition has a rich collection of articles on creative art expressions, narrative therapy, genograms, child-centered play therapy, Theraplay, family therapy work, animal-assisted therapy approach and working with specific groups such as group therapy, families, cross-cultural work, divorce/separation and more.  The articles also include approaches which have been used with children and families with a range of difficulties and topics including trauma, attachment, grief and loss, gender variant children, and mental illness and more (Chang, 2013).  This is definitely a must-have edition to play therapists, family therapists and professionals who work with young people.

Some of my favorite articles include, “The Colours of My Family Tree- Creative Genogram Mapping of Multi-Generational Trauma” by Chloe Westelmajer under the section: Creative Expressions: Art in Children’s Therapy.  This section teaches therapists how to use the basic genogram to help the child explain and describe relationships in their family in an artistic and engaging manner.  The genogram can also be used as an assessment tool for children and family.  As Westelmajer explains the genogram provides rich information about the client, as well as sets the stage for further therapeutic work and focus within treatment (Westelmajer, 2013).

“The Magic Touch with a Cotton Ball” by Lorie Walton and “Caring for Hurts: A Theraplay Activity” by Evangeline Munns are both Theraplay ® approaches which uses touch, engagement and attunement to build connection and attachment within the child.  Both techniques are practical and easy to use with clients and families.

Another interesting article is Julie Tilson’s, “Friendly Ghosts: Re-Membering Conversations with Children” (Tilson, 2013).  Rooted in narrative practices, Tilson connects the symbol of the social media Casper the Ghost with the concept of developing narrative stories to help children grieve significant people in their lives.  In this structured approach, the therapist takes the child or the family on a journey to explore their lost loved ones influence on their past, their present and future as a way to help them as a way to honor and acknowledge their continued role in the family’s dynamics.  Out of this discourse come narratives which become part of the individuals healing and growth.  A definitely unique and very important piece to the grief and loss work (Tilson. 2013).

Finally, “Creative Empowerment for Girls: Strengthening Her Awakening Voice” by Carmen Richardson is another favorite particularly due to my own passion of working with young woman.  Richardson’s approach was designed for group work with pre- adolescent girls and includes art approaches, breathing exercises and body awareness together to develop activities to help girls transition into an important stage in their lives.  In one activity, Richardson encourages girls to create an art symbol that represents a girl speaking her truth or creating an art symbol that represents their Moon Cycle.  Her focus is upon providing girls with rites of passage which celebrates their changes into women and provides them a creative space to express themselves (Richardson, 2013).

Altogther this collection contains 48 articles, interventions, and approaches which can be of value to play therapists working with children and youth in many different circles.  A definite must-have for your collection!

Work Cited:
Chang, Jeff (edited). Creative Interventions With Children: A Transtheoretical Approach. Calgary: Family Psychology Press: 2013.

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