By Tara Moser, LCSW, RPT-S, CAAPT-I
You’ve got dragons…we all have dragons! Many of those dragons have shown up this year for so many of us. I love bibliotherapy. One of my must have books is Kathryn Cave’s “You’ve Got Dragons”. Children, teens, and adults all love and connect with this book in their own way! The story takes you through how we recognize and identify our “dragons” throughout life. By acknowledging them, they can be more in our control. Our dragons can be many things in life: anxiety, fear, sadness, loss, self-control, and so many other symptoms that happen to each of us daily and often result in someone seeking therapy.
I am also someone who LOVES traditional sand tray with all my selected miniatures. This year has been a challenge to provide my clients that specific tool for processing in the sand in a safe manner. As COVID has continued to play out, we have yet to add our sand trays safely back into the playrooms. Along came the recommendations by other play therapists to get the Virtual Sandtray App® (VSA). After some learning curves, I am hooked, as are my live and virtual clients! The ability to manipulate, animate, and still have tactile input through digging, building, burying, and placing items is invaluable!
Recently I have combined this book with allowing space for clients to create a sand tray to process their dragons in the VSA! The dragon choices, especially those which are animated, has opened doors for creative processing of the client’s specific need while also providing space to name it and take control of it! They can utilize different sizes, colors, features, and animations of each dragon option. Those animations can fly, pounce, sleep, and much more!
In the story, Ben (the character you follow) gives you his top tips for what to do when you have dragons and one of those things is get to know it! He encourages you to draw it, name it, and really give it some characteristics! This provides the perfect technique for clients to process.
After reading the book together, I then offer clients the opportunity to use the VSA to create their dragons. We talk about what the dragons may represent, how many they have, and identify what each dragon represents. In the VSA, they often first create their dragons and then add to the environment through digging holes, building barriers, or adding other scenery pieces. Just as I would with other sand trays, I would track their play and provide the safety to share about each dragon.
You’ve Got Dragons, Kathryn Cave – Find it here:
Tara Moser, LCSW, RPT-S, CAAPT-I
Tara Moser is the owner of Delta Family Counseling in Cape Coral, Florida, a private practice with a community heart! Tara specializes in working with children, adolescents, and families as well as supervising interns and providing training. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Supervisor in Florida, a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, and Certified Animal Assisted Play Therapist Supervisor and Instructor. She specializes in play therapy and also involves her dogs and hamsters in Animal Assisted Play Therapy®. Tara is also the founder of Pawsitive Kids Camp, Inc., a collaborative non-profit camp offered to children during school breaks. It integrates AAPT and rescue dogs while helping children to work on self-control, self-esteem, boundaries, communication and social skills. At the same time, the children help the dogs to become more adoptable and to teach them some basic training skills.