Creating an Emotional Language with Children

Finding age appropriate ways to share in the emotional journey your child has experienced each day has many benefits.

It helps improve emotional awareness and self-confidence but most importantly it allows your child feel seen and valued by you. While language skills are developing for your child, one communication method that is readily available is their natural ability to express themselves creatively through drawing or picture making. 

A popular activity for creating these shared moments of reflection after school or in the evening time is called the “Body Diary”.
What you need is some paper or a notebook and colours of any sort. 

Steps include:

1) Draw an outline of a body or a simple circle for younger children.They may wish to draw their own.

2) Be curious about what feelings and thoughts are passing through them. Have a little moment to wonder with them. 

 3) Allow them draw or illustrate the different feelings and thoughts that visited during the day. Placing them on the body outline in the locations they felt / feel them. All feelings are welcome

 4) Be curious about their experience, ask questions and wonder with them about what the feelings are that they are expressing. Perhaps help them learn new words.

 5) Praise their wonderful efforts and keep the drawings in a safe place all together; modelling the fact that their inner world is  so very important and precious.

If you would like to know more about supporting your child’s emotional development or regulation through Art Therapy please feel free to make contact.  


Art Therapy - Supporting Motherhood

Becoming a new mum is a unique experience for each and every woman and at Mind Body Ireland we fully understand this, especially when it comes to our specific services for women. One such service is Art Therapy and it can play a very supportive role when it comes to psychological preparation for motherhood.

Frequently during and approaching pregnancy, people may start improving their self-care habits by eating healthily, taking yoga classes etc. They may begin to pay increasing attention to supporting the physical changes that occur during pregnancy, all of which is excellent. But in terms of mental health there can be important considerations also.

During pregnancy there are psychological tasks which are accomplished by a new mum, such as fantasising about the baby to come, fantasising about how they themselves will be as a mother. There is also a re-structuring of one’s own identity and sense of self, even sometimes a grieving for an old way of life as this new phase unfolds.

Together all these shifts in perspective ultimately enhance mum and baby bonding.

As all our lives are unique and our circumstances different, a women’s personal jigsaw of life experiences means that her fertility and motherhood journey can need and benefit from differing levels of emotional and mental health support as she prepares for the birth of her child and as she adjusts to life with a new baby.

Art Therapy can be utilised for support during the pre-natal and post-natal periods.

Art Therapy provides a gentle and creative way to feel into and untangle emotions; it offers a space to be seen and to be heard. The sensory-motor and tactile nature of the therapy has a grounding and stabilising effect beneficial when processing and integrating trauma. The sessions are confidential and person-centered and at Mind Body Ireland the Art Therapy that is available is grounded upon up-to-date trauma-informed practices and Infant Mental Health.

No artistic skill or previous experience is necessary.

Please feel free to make contact if you would like to discuss attending Art Therapy or if you would like to discuss questions you may have.

Art Therapy and Needle Phobia

For many children frequent trips to the GP and hospital are a part of life and for those with lifelong health conditions it may remain so.

It is not uncommon for anxiety to sometimes attach itself to medical appointments and medical interventions involving needles or x-rays.

During the period of time approaching hospital appointments or routine injections a child’s behaviour can change as their anxiety increases. The more this happens the more hypersensitive their stress response can become and resultantly emotional regulation becomes increasingly difficult for them.

When I work with children experiencing these difficulties Art Therapy provides them with a safe space to feel and practice managing overwhelming emotions. As art is a natural language for children it offers a means of communicating these large feelings even if the child cannot name them. The art making process also offers a tool for regulation that can be used at home to help in the days approaching a medical appointment.

In collaboration with the child frequently I write and record stories that connect directly to the individual child’s experience and inner world. These recordings can empower and help regulate the child before, during and after their medical appointments and have proved to be very popular with the children who use them.

More often than not underlying the needle phobia anxieties can be deeper held fears relating to the child’s illness and how the child sees themselves as an individual and as part of their family unit. Through needle phobia interventions larger fears can ultimately be addressed and the child supported as they navigate through and repair their sense of self.

This reparative and supportive work can positively impact the child’s physical and mental health long into their future, as with improved self-image comes motivation for self-care and medical compliance.

If you would like to discuss Art Therapy for needle phobia please call or email and we will be happy to explain the process in more detail.

How Mindfulness Meditation can help with Anxiety, Panic and Stress

We may not be able to change or prevent stressful events from happening in our lives – but we can choose how we respond to them.

This is one of the gifts that mindfulness brings, it offers us choice.  This choice comes through the ability to make space for ourselves to know how we are feeling. When we have a sense of space, we are less likely to react destructively to stress and more likely to respond effectively.

Anxiety, panic and stress are common feelings which we have all experienced at some point. They become problematic when they persist or they become a habitual way of experiencing the world.

Mindfulness offers a number of practices that people may find helpful as a support when these emotions are feeling front and centre in their lives. Leading Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn describes the practice as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally”      

Mindfulness of Breathing

The practice of Mindfulness of Breathing can be a useful tool to resort to if tightness and fast breathing patterns associated with anxiety approach. Our breath is always with us and always available to help switch off the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode) which activates during stress.

Bringing at least 50% of your awareness to the breath and the sensation of breathing can help to sooth the unpleasant feelings.

Mindfulness of Feelings

When we stop for a moment and become still and quiet we are more likely to know how we are feeling. There may be anxiety but there can be other feelings too and noticing these can be useful for knowing what we need.

Asking ourselves what we need is an act of self-kindness.

This practice supports us in staying present without judgement even when feelings are difficult and this helps prevent addictive or avoidant habits forming as a means of coping.

Mindfulness creates a sense of spaciousness which allows us to see ourselves as separate to these difficult feelings. Without it we can feel enmeshed with the anxiety and practicing self-kindness is very difficult in such moments.

Mindfulness of Thoughts

Anxiety, panic and stress can all fuel repetitive, negative thinking which leads to further stress still. Through the practice of Mindful Thinking we can depower these thinking patterns by being aware that they are occurring and by learning to invest less importance in every thought that passes through our mind.

We can choose to step off the merry-go-round of negative thoughts.

By cultivating awareness with Mindfulness Meditation we begin to see our choices. Having choices gives us a sense of control moment to moment which can be soothing for those with anxiety, panic and stress.

Finding a Mindfulness community or a course that offers you support during your learning is important. If you are interested in learning and practicing Mindfulness in more depth you are welcome to join our monthly Mindfulness Meditation Workshops at Essential Wellness in Ballincollig. 

The Benefits of Workplace Mindfulness Training

We all want to work within an organizational and team climate of co-operation, productivity and with of course lower emotional exhaustion (burn-out).
We want an increased sense of psychological wellbeing, lower reactivity levels and faster recovery from workplace stress.

If you are working in an environment that currently seems adrift from this ideal it might be encouraging to know that empirical research shows us that all the above qualities can result from Workplace Mindfulness Training courses.

As part of a tailored Workplace Health Initiative, Mindfulness Training can be delivered to up-skill a work-force on effective stress-management techniques. The cognitive skills that are attained through these trainings are key in mental health protection, resilience building and team cohesion.

Over the past eight years of delivering Corporate Wellness services it has been really encouraging to see a steady increase in companies, businesses and schools taking active steps to improve the mental and physical health of their workforce. Investing and showing interest in who the person is behind the job, by providing courses and talks that directly benefit them, hugely enhances that employees’ sense of job satisfaction and resultantly their motivation and productivity.

Presenting mini-programmes or taster sessions is a great way to introduce wellness to your workplace, it gives people an opportunity to listen to the research and gain an informed understanding of the benefits of the courses or trainings on offer.
It also increases the buy-in that employees then bring to the training courses.

We strongly recommend the introduction of these trainings at management level initially if at all possible. The top-down influence of prioritising wellbeing and actively supporting mental health cultivates a sense of community whose culture honestly promotes necessary self-care. The non-verbal communication of safety and appreciation that occurs with this top-down approach is a powerful tool in overcoming absenteeism and also presenteeism.

Mind Body Ireland offers Workplace Mindfulness Trainings as part of its Corporate Wellness Services. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss the needs of your workplace and look forward to greatly improving its culture and climate.


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