■ Plan to act out a story, perhaps in collaboration with a child.

■ Find the outcome or point at which the story will end.

■ Explore the journey or steps the character needs to reach that outcome.

■ Find the crisis or challenge where your story will begin.

■ Seek out the character or characters that are most likely to communicate the story's message.


Rent a Kids' Video

If, as a parent or a therapist making a therapeutic recommendation to a family, you suggest a family pizza-and-video/DVD night, how many children are likely to turn it down? Hesley and Hesley (2001) have written a very pragmatic book about using video movies in adult therapy to allow clients to identify with problems similar to their own and to build strategies for working their way through that situation. Clients are requested to rent relevant videos and then talk about the topic in their next therapy session.

A close relationship exists between VideoWork and a clinical use of therapeutically constructed metaphors. Both involve surprise that disrupts habitual responses, both use rich images that require a client to supply personal content in order to construct meanings that are relevant, and both involve implied directives for change. (p. 9)

These authors say there is a difference between watching videos for entertainment and viewing them therapeutically. To ensure the latter, the therapist needs to help prepare the client for watching the video, then ask specific questions in therapy about which characters the client identified with and what methods they learned for resolving their own problems. This involves knowing your client well and knowing the video you recommend for viewing. Not all have clear or unequivocal messages. Recommending teenagers watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off may be beneficial if your intent is to communicate messages about competence in computer and social skills, caring for friends, having fun, and being independent. However, there are aspects ofFerris's character you may not want your client to model—like his deceit, his unlawful use of other people's property, his conceitedness, and his manipulation. Care needs to be taken that the video is likely to communicate the desired message, or that the client has the discriminatory skills to differentiate what is beneficial from what is not.

In child and adolescent videotherapy, therapists need to be mindful of what they select as age-relevant videos and how they communicate with the child about them. Since waiting a week until the next session may not be practical, using small video clips during the therapeutic session or asking parents to show the child the video the evening prior to the next appointment can lead to more immediacy of discussion. Follow-up questions are likely to be along the lines of: Which character did you like (identify with) the most? How do you see yourself as being like him or her? How would you like to be more like him or her? If they were in your place right now what do you think they would do? How would they fix things? How could you do what they do?

In Table 3.2 I have listed some children's movies with a brief description of their therapeutic characteristics, including examples of the types of problems they address, the competencies and resources they develop, and the outcomes they offer. This is just a brief list to give an example of the metaphoric value of certain movies. Check out what kids and teens are currently watching and can access at the cinema or rent through a video/DVD library. Assess their potential therapeutic messages for the ages and types of kids you work with, then test out their therapeutic benefits.

Make a Video

With a simple cape and mask, my grandson standing on a rock backed by a blue sky, and a video camera turned on its side (carefully omitting the rock), Batman would appear to fly to the rescue of a character in whatever distress we dreamed to create. With a black top-hat, a menacing laugh, and a bit of editing, a malevolent magician could trick Grandpa George into a cardboard box and saw him in half (appropriately accompanied by screams of pain) before turning into a good magician who could solve the problem by putting Grandpa George back together. Having children act out the story helps them identify with the character and the message of the tale. By our videotaping these performances, not only do children have the excitement of seeing themselves portray that character but,

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