Play Therapy Activity for Play Therapist to Use: Mystery Counseling Session Secret Garden

by Play Therapy Student
(Atlanta, GA)

Play Therapy Technique - Mystery Counseling Session Secret Garden Example

Play Therapy Technique - Mystery Counseling Session Secret Garden Example

When I first received the topic for my play therapy mystery counseling session (Secret Garden), I did not know where to begin. I did know that I wanted to use this assignment as another opportunity to think outside of the box; so, I decided to put myself in the place of a client that could possibly benefit from creating a “secret garden” of their own and the scenario that might bring this need forward – and the rest just kind of flowed.

I imagined working with an eleven year old girl whose parents argue a lot and may be on the verge of a separation or a potential divorce. I used a foam plate, markers, miniatures, some synthetic flowers and a small synthetic tree, cotton balls, construction paper, and pictures that I found online to create this mini world. For me, the sound of water is very calming, so I started out by coloring a flowing river in the middle of the plate and plush grass on both sides of it. I found a picture of this beautiful stone bridge and I decided to incorporate that into the garden. It represented overcoming certain obstacles and moving on to bigger and better things. I knew that I wanted a tree and flowers, so I found some around the house and situated them in the world. It reminded me of a tree house that I used to have because of the multiple levels of branches – very nostalgic and yet still indicative of climbing towards something. I used a cotton ball near the base of my bridge as a possible rock to lie upon and stare into the clouds. I also included hand drawn pictures of butterflies and a ladybug because butterflies symbolize growth and transformation and ladybug was a cute childhood nickname. I placed a "fence" around the world because I figured that the client would want to feel protected from the outside world, but I also left it open because I am sure that sometimes, the client would like to let people in. Lastly, I incorporated the princess (the client) and a frog (a garden friend that she shares her world, her laughter, and her tears with) into the world.

After completing the “secret garden”, I was able to identify closely with the need for this mini world – not only for potential clients but, for myself as well. I envisioned being terrified, angry, and just completely overwhelmed by a situation that was beyond my control and wanting to just get away - where would I want to go? This assignment challenged me to be creative, resourceful, and very empathetic; and I know that it will be a great tool for me to use with my future clients.

P.S. Frogs represent “a potential for change or transformation” as well – go figure =)

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