What a Spring Break! I have had so much time to relax. I got a haircut (whew! It has been a long time!), did a lot of crafts, watched Doctor Who, and read, read, read. Thankfully, Colorado enjoyed some warm weather this week and I got to sit outside and burn a little! I kind of have to brag too- my husband and I got beach cruiser bicycles! Mine is mint green with awesome fenders and all of this just makes me itchy for summer.
Needless to say, Spring Break was void of any worry, stress, or State Assessments. Ha! But, just to get back into the groove of things, I wanted to share a technique that I use in both individual and small group counseling: The Worry Box.
This is quite simple to make. All it takes is either paint, or paper- your choice. And a box. You can find one at Target, or even your local craft store. I had some stickers I used as well. Do with it whatever you wish! You could even have your students make their very own worry box.
I choose to make mine look like a tree, and came up with the above saying to go with it.
"Let your worries fall." It conveys what the purpose of the box is.
In a particularly more emotionally charged group, or when I know students have a lot on their minds, The Worry Box is a great facilitator of conversation and relating. I bring out the box and explain to them that the first step in helping a worry is acknowledging it. I hand out index cards, post-its, or scraps of paper (whatever I have lying around) and tell the group that this is an anonymous activity. They do not have to make themselves known, simply write down their particular burden that they are carrying and put it in the box. You can set the topic if you like, maybe keeping the worries about Deployment or Grief. Or you can open it up to anything.
Afterwards, I hold onto the box and will pick from one of the worries to read aloud. I remind the group that each worry is unique and we should remain sensitive to that person. In addition, I am careful to keep the group diverted from advice giving. I focus the group on the feelings the person who wrote the worry, how the rest of the group relates and if they have ever experienced the worry themselves. Eventually we talk about coping and turning our worries around.
One thing to keep in mind while doing this activity is that it will take all your time. In addition, most students will want their worry to be brought to the group so be sure to prepare for that as well.
This activity works SO well. Often, my role is diminished quite a bit (depending on the stage your group is in of course!) and the group is able to relate and encourage all by themselves. It also brings the individuals in the group closely together as they have a true and honest conversations among themselves. I think that it also shows that worries kept to ourselves can be toxic. Immediately after having their worry shared, students feel an immense sense of relief and are able to recognize why it is important to share them in the first place.
When I use The Worry Box in individual counseling, it is often more for the analogy of storing that students worry somewhere safe. I have them write their worry down as well and we talk extensively about it. Then, I symbolically shut the box before they leave. During school hours, their worry is safe in the counseling office while they focus in on school.