Less Talk, More Action; The integration of small figures in a solution-focused counselling practice with children.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Counselling
This thesis seeks to examine how the integration of play, small toys specifically, and the use of solution-focused brief therapy techniques can affect the outcomes for primary school aged children undergoing counselling. The setting is a counselling agency in Christchurch, New Zealand.
A qualitative research approach is used and the data analysed using a narrative inquiry approach. The context of this study is the counselling service of an agency where young children, adolescents and their families are helped and supported through a variety of life issues. The counselling the participants are offered uses a combination of a solution-focused and play therapy where the purpose is to encourage clients to find exceptions to their presenting problems and identify their preferred future. The aim of this study is to help the children navigate their problem through a better understanding of and the gaining of personal skills and strengths.
Participants were invited to be part of this study through the agency waiting list. The four included presented with a variety of reasons for coming to counselling yet these proved similar to that which the agency has been routinely presented with in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes from 2011 to present day. Each participant had the consent of their parents or caregivers to engage in this project. The participants themselves separately agreed to engage in a solution- focused counselling process where the counsellor also integrated the use of small toys as part of the course. Counselling sessions were audiotaped, aspects photographed and analysed with a specific focus on client engagement.
Four key themes emerged as the participants explored their personal narrative. Firstly, the “I’m OK” theme depicted in their first scaling activity, secondly a recognition that things could indeed be better and they needed help. Thirdly, a realisation of their own strengths and skills and finally that the future was an optimistic place to look forward to.
These themes are described and explained through descriptions of the participant’s stories as well as self-reflection by the researcher. Transcriptions of sessions are included as are excerpts from the research journal and photographs of the use of the small toys by the children.