I recently left my job at a community mental health agency and had to say goodbye to my clients, so termination activities have been on my mind. One of my favorite activities to do with children, especially when they are terminating because they have completed therapy (as opposed to the therapist leaving), is creating a memory book.
In this activity, the therapist and child work together to create a small book that the child can take home when they leave therapy, providing a transitional object as well as reminders for the child of what they have learned. I create a simple book, often using patterned scrapbooking paper for the cover and white copy paper for the pages. The paper for the cover can be folded up to create a pocket.
I often write clients a goodbye card or note, which can then be placed in the pocket. Inside the book, the child can write and draw pictures to remember what they have learned in therapy.
Here are some suggestions for pages in the book:
- What I have Learned in Therapy
- My Coping Skills
- Relaxation Skills
- How I Am Different Now
- My Safety Plan
- Hopes and Dreams for the Future
- People Who Support Me
|Memory book as a termination activity|
|Inside of book – the cover has a folded pocket to hold a note.|
You can customize the topics based on what the client needs and the focus of treatment. For example, if anger management has been a focus, it will be helpful to have a page for the child to remind themselves of their anger management plan. For children who have had trauma or stressful events happen, it can be very important to include the safety plan, but not all children will need this.
Some children may like to include a “Before and After” type page to highlight the changes they have made. If the child is ending therapy but continuing medication services, like with ADHD, it could be good to have a page that reviews why medication is important and helpful.
For treatment that has included family therapy, parents or other family members could assist the child in creating the book as well.
When you have been doing art therapy with the child, you could also include printed photos of some of the child’s art work.
Plan to have a few sessions before termination to work on the book and all the pages so that you don’t run out of time.
Not quite sure how to make your own book? Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord has some directions on great bookmaking projects to do with kids.
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Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT, ATR is a child therapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, adolescents, and families. For more information about individual therapy, child counseling, family therapy, and art therapy services, please visit www.therapywithcarolyn.com.
This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health conditions. All directives, interventions, and ideas should be used by qualified individuals within the appropriate bounds of their education, training, and scope of practice. Information presented in this blog does not replace professional training in mental health, psychotherapy, counseling, art therapy, or play therapy. Although anyone can have a healing experience with art, art therapy requires the direction of a trained art therapist.
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Heather Thomas says
I am so doing this with my regular students, but I will have them create a page with the tools and strategies we cover. It can be used as an assessment to comprehending what they have learned and how they can put it to use!
Carolyn Mehlomakulu says
Hi, Heather. Glad you found this helpful! I think that's a great thought to use this as an assessment to see how well children have comprehended what they learned. After seeing what my clients put in their memory books, it has sometimes prompted me to review something that they had forgotten or slightly misunderstood.
Hi! Thank you for your blog, I've gotten so many great ideas here! I was wondering if you think at-risk urban youth would be into this? I think my 13 year old clients definitely would be, but I'm wondering about the 15-16 year olds. Thank you!!
I have used this book several times thank you for the share!
I have used this activity before and I have found it extremely helpful.
Carolyn Mehlomakulu says
Sorry for my VERY late reply…I have sadly neglected the blog but hope to be more active again. I think this is an activity that could be adapted to work for some of the older teens, but should be judged on a case by case basis. By termination, you should have a good sense of your clients and what will be helpful for them. Some may like and benefit from the "memory book" activity; others may prefer talking to review what they have learned and what they will need to continue to work on; others enjoy a collage/drawing activity with a prompt like "My Hopes for the Future" or "How My Life is Now." Thanks for reading!