Doing therapy as Tele-Play rather than in office therapy is a bit different to put it mildly. Now, don’t get me wrong – there is beauty in connecting in times of crisis, supporting those we work with, and giving our best to serve our clients with what we have.
BUT one of the big things I have noticed is that for some young people our play is a bit more, ummm, stationary. For someone who spends a majority of her professional life on the floor with young people, or up engaged in an epic battle or soothing a crying baby (doll of course - or maybe dinosaur?), the shift to sitting in a chair to make sure I am visible, on camera, and because my work space is a little small to say the least – it was a big difference for me to limit my movement!
Now, I can be intentional and stretch and move between sessions but what about during sessions? I want to share something that was born in one of my sessions that has been incredibly helpful for those energetic movers and shakers we work with. It is called….THE SHAKE BREAK! *cue your favorite most body shaking music track here*
There are definitely cues that young people may have that they need to get their bodies moving. Maybe they are tuning out a bit, or you can see them wiggling all over the place, they are chewing their markers and pens, or a number of other things. At this point you lightly introduce your observation of what you are noticing with their bodies and get curious if they may need to move. Most of them will say yes and you explain to them that you would like to use Shake Breaks in your session. This is simply where you take some time to shake out your bodies.
As this becomes more part of your routine what can happen next is magical! Either you or the young person will yell out SHAKE BREAK!!! during the middle of an activity and both get up and go wild – shaking all that energy out!
The other awesome thing about this is you can use it to really dive in to what the warning signs were that their body needed to move and shake. What were they noticing inside? How did they know it was time to move? It also gives them control over and practice in making decisions that are right for regulating their bodies.
What other techniques and tips do you have for helping young people move their bodies in Tele-Play? I would love to know more about what everyone is doing so drop a comment below!
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I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC, RPT-S, and EMDR Consultant. I help other therapists grow in their passions as play therapists, trauma therapists,and child and adolescent therapists.