The therapeutic use of props with children
Walawander, Christine E.
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Counselors demand effective and research-based interventions when counseling children. The present study helps meet this demand. A prop was defined as an object that a counselor and/or client transform into a metaphor that is relevant therapeutically. Phenomenological methods and grounded theory approaches were utilized to analyze 33 videotaped counseling sessions. Ten sessions came from published videotapes and 23 came from counselors currently providing counseling to children. From analyzing the sessions, two major categories emerged: process of counseling children and utilization of props with children. Each of these categories possessed themes and subthemes. The process of counseling children category illustrated that effective counseling skills are necessary for props to be utilized. This included the physical setting of the counseling environment and attributes of the counselor. Additionally, the creativity and expressiveness of counselors was a necessary component when counseling children. The utilization of props category showed how counselors and child clients introduce and work with props therapeutically. Through the manipulation of props, patterns formed that mirrored the issues that brought the child clients into counseling. Counselors then transformed the props into metaphors that related to the child clients’ lives. Counselors were enabled to design therapeutic interventions that specifically fit the needs of their child clients through prop usage. Counselors also attempted to generalize the gains made in counseling through the prop usage to the child clients’ home environments. A model is presented to show how props are transformed into a therapeutic intervention.