This emotion and coping skill reminder and check-in board has gotten more use in my office than any other intervention or tangible item. I introduce it in initial sessions as way for clients to show me their feelings when they arrive each time and before they leave. Often clients like to change the feelings during session as well which is wonderful and leads so many opportunities for further emotion exploration and validation. In the school based setting, children would often enter my office after an altercation or perceived negative interaction that occurred at school. Sometimes the child or teen or would come in (or be escorted in by another staff), arms crossed, upset and nonverbal. More often than not though, the child or teen would still make their way to this board without prompting and indicate their feeling or feelings. Sometimes during session, after being able to process the incident, express underlying emotions either verbally or non-verbally , or engage in some problem solving, the child or teen will take the initiative to change the emotion on the board.
The board also allows for reminders of safe ways to cope with and express feelings. I included draw or write, take deep breaths, talk about something, and imagine a safe place (this one gets used a lot).
The board is fairly simple to make too!
*wooden plaque board (available at any craft store) Mine is approximately 14 by 12 inches.
*Wooden discs (approximately 11/2 inch in diameter
*Acrylic water proof paint in various colors
*Magnets (make sure you put them all facing the same way on the circles vs the board so they don’t repel each other)
*Permanent marker (for details and labeling)
*glue (gorilla or hot glue)
1. paint the board a solid color
2. Paint and decorate feeling faces and skills. Be sure to at least to include the four basic emotions (sad, angry, afraid, and happy). Paint and label the emotions and skills on the board.
3. Glue magnets on the board and on the faces (pay attention to the way you face them!) use hot glue or gorilla glue.
4. Be sure to allow multiple blank magnet spaces so the child can identify more than one feeling.
5. Start using it! Even many of my older clients find it helpful and it creates a sense of safety through routine and validation, acceptance of all emotions.