(This article was written on Monday but wasn't finished until Tuesday evening.)
I am feeling so good now as I have a productive day today. I have started my practicum in this private Catholic school since September 2009. Before I realized, 6 months have passed. There were times that I couldn't help but kept thinking, "What am I doing here? What have I done to these kids? Whatever I have done, are those helpful?" I doubt my own ability in helping these kids although I am really passionate in what I am doing. There were times that my feeling of anxiety arised when I thought of I did not help them improve or even worsen the situation.
For some reason, my supervisor very sensitive to have anyone of us label the kids with the word "angry". He said we are not containers that store feelings of anger. Those kids behave aggressively or get frustrated easily because they borned like this. I have the totally different view from him. He believes in token system and rewards system. To me, if only things are so easy then I do not need to spend so much money, time and energy to study what I am studying now. If those inappropriate aggressive behaviors, lying, attention issues, can be solved by giving the kids extra time for TV, ice-cream, video games, cookies or sleep over at friends house; we will have a peaceful world decades ago and the job of therapist will not exist.
I have a 5-year-old boy whom has been seeing me for about 5months now. He was referred by his teacher for his aggressive behavior. For some reason, he is my sweet heart. In my eyes, he is such an adorable sun shine boy. I have listened to my supervisor and put him into the so called "reward system" over the past 4months. His aggressive behavior has been decreased a little but still hitting people and playing rough on and off. I then decided to follow my own believe and searching for other effective ways in treating him. As I mentioned before, I admire Dr Violet Oaklander's work very much. This 82-year-old sweet lady really inspired me a lot in my therapy journey with kids. Her unique ways of working with kids are amazing and really are something I believe.
Two weeks ago when I played Play-Doh with this boy, he decided to make snakes to eat my rabbits. I then talked to the snake instead of talking to him as what Violet always did with her children in therapy. I made another rabbit and tried to make friend with his snake. He hid his snake behind a little container, stayed far away from my bunny and then said, "I am a snake. I am poisonous. Don't come close to me. Everybody get close to me will get hurt by me." He then became silent. After a few seconds, he changed topic and wanted to move to next game.
Children do not convey their thinking and feeling verbally and straight forward. They respond better through the third party instead of speaking on behalf of themselves. This is so true when I work with this boy. He does not have many friends in his class because he plays rough and even hits people sometimes and gets into trouble. You can see why he made a poisenous snake and this statement.
Today when I went to his classroom to pick him up, I saw him with his Lego Navy ship. I then said, "Why don't you bring that ship with you and let's play with it together later?" In this session, we played Lego. I started asked him something about his family while we were making
some trucks, cars and buildings to set up the scene to play "good guys vs bad guys" game. For the very first time, he told me his sad feelings when his father yelled at him. I lowered down my voice and asked him carefully, "If you dad was here, what would you say to him?" He replied softly, "Dad, would you please don't yell at me? Cause that make me feel sad..."
This is powerful in therapy. It is especially powerful for a child to be able to say this. Although I do not get paid to work here, but the hours that I collected and the precious experience that I can't find elsewhere is priceless. After six months putting the theories into practice, I have to say I love my job as a therapist.
A girl that I have seen for 3 months came in today told me she did not have a good day. After the session she said to me, "Ms Zoe, thank you so much. I wasn't having a good day but you made my day." I smiled and felt so warm inside my heart.
A teacher set an appoinment with me earlier and I went to talk to her after seeing couple of children. She referred another two students to me and said, "Thank you Zoe. You have done so much. It is so good to have you here compare to last year. Last year wasn't a good year. I appreciate what you have done." I stunned for 2 seconds and then replied by looking into her eyes sincerely, "Thank you so much. Your words really mean a lot to me."
How precious! What the lovely responses and rewards!
To all my fellow colleagues out there, believe in what you are doing because you really can make a difference in other's life.