I work with many children who are removed from their homes and placed in foster care. For most of them this is a traumatic experience. I know how difficult it is for most of us to make transitions, move to new homes or countries. Building new connections takes time, love and energy. From attachment theory studies we know that if a child can connect to one person, then that child can grow and have connections with other important people in his or her life.
But how do we help with transitions and creating new healthy attachments? I have a new helper in my Art Therapy Studio. I had fallen in love with Denise’s work and I wanted one of her creations to live with me and help me with my therapy work. But how could I help Tiny Blessed make to transition from Australia to Canada?
|Tiny Blessed arriving in the mail.
First, it was good that her maker and I already had a connection. We are blogging friends. To know that Denise already liked and trusted me helped Tiny Blessed trust me. She had to travel a long distance, so, when she arrived I made sure she was comfortable and settled her into a soft warm place with the objects that Denise had packed with her. I knew that Tiny Blessed would need those objects to help her make the transition to her new surroundings. Tiny Blessed would need time to become accustomed to the new odours, sights, noises and voices in my Art Therapy Studio. I was hoping that she would want to help with children that I work with like some of my other stuffed creatures and dolls do, but first she needed time to settle in.
|Tiny Blessed and her transitional objects.
All children in transition need to have freedom to look around and find their place. Tiny Blessed tried the dollhouse, several chairs, and the doll shelf. Of course I showed her all the rooms. I slowly and gently talked about the other toys, where they came from and watched her body language to see when and if she was getting overwhelmed or excited.
Routine helps my children feel safe and grounded in my Art Therapy Studio and it also helped Tiny Blessed. She slowly started making appearances in the Art Therapy Studio. The separation and reunion process is usually highly individual. Tiny Blessed likes to sleep in the hug chair and she likes to be in the art studio when the children start arriving. She has already been held by a few of the children, and I think she likes them. Because she doesn’t use words to talk, I have to read her energy and body language to notice when she feels relaxed, comfortable or needs something. She has already connected with a few of my nonverbal clients and I think she is excited that she has a job here.
|Tiny Blessed experiencing snow.
She was fascinated with Canadian snow and has had a few visits outside. I think she is transitioning well. I feel she likes the idea of being a co-therapist, she already has made some close friends and she likes her new home. Thanks Denise. I will probably be writing you about one of her sisters coming here.