When conversations turn to tricky subjects, our hands are often clear indicators of discomfort.
Whether it is hands thrust deep into pockets in defiance, or nervously rearranging hair, or biting fingernails, or any other kind of flicking, tapping, picking or squeezing we may be doing, our hands speak volumes.
But hand gestures don’t only signal our feelings to others, they also help us manage what we are feeling internally. Having something to occupy our hands seems to help us externalise or transfer some of the intensity of our emotional state to outside. This is one of the understandings that sits behind the use of tactile resources in therapeutic work.
Innovative Resources has just produced a colourful new Therapy Ball to help get ‘feelings conversations’ rolling with kids and adults. Light, soft and easy to catch, you can throw or roll the ball with individuals and groups. You can juggle several balls or toss them across a group at once. Or lob them into hoops and buckets. Invent your own games and bring play into learning whenever possible.
The Therapy Ball features thirty zany characters from the much-missed Koala Company card set. Remember those marvellous marsupials drawn by Mat Jones? These highly-expressive koala characters cover the whole gamut of emotions from calm, contented and cuddly to sad, surprised and scared, all the way through to disgusted, disappointed and down-hearted—and any other emotion a child, young person or adult may be feeling.
- Throw or roll the Therapy Ball to someone, or play catch around a circle. Ask the catcher questions like: Which koala is facing you? What are those koalas feeling? Have you ever felt that way?
- Can you pick a koala to show how you’re feeling today? Which one shows how you’d like to be feeling?
- Can you tell a story using several of the koalas? What names would you give them? What happened in the story?
- What are the koalas in your story feeling? Have you ever felt that way? What is the best thing another koala could say to you when you are feeling that way?
- Can you find pairs of koalas that show emotions you feel often, and ones you hardly ever feel?
- Can you find pairs of koalas that show emotions you think are similar, opposite, easy, difficult?
- Which ones show emotions you would like to learn to manage in a different way?
- Do you know someone who you think handles this emotion well?
- Can you copy something they do and see how that works for you?
- What would be different in your life if you changed the way you handle this emotion?
- Or you can simply leave the Therapy Ball on a table for someone to pick up and squeeze in a counselling or mentoring session, or try tossing it back and forward as you talk together.
Soft, squeezable, multi-coloured ball made from PVC synthetic leather, lightly stuffed, 12.5 centimetres in diameter, with hand-stitched, pentagon-shaped patches, featuring 30 expressive koala characters (head and shoulders) depicting a wide range of emotions.