(I will preface this post with snack is not appropriate for all clients, nor is any client the same as the any other. You have to use your discretion as a play therapist to see what would be best for them.)
I love to end my sessions with "snack and story time" or "snack and share time." Snack time provides a time where my client and I can have a few minutes at the end of the session to recap, set goals, build our attachment and trust to one another, and continue in our therapeutic relationship.
During the intake with the parents, I ask about any allergies and get their permission to have snack time with their child. I then leave about 10 minutes at the end of every session for snack. Sometimes, (mainly with the younger ones) we read a book and can process it while they eat. Since they are eating, they are usually a fairly captive and engaged audience. Sometimes, we play a game and have sharing time. For example, I often use the colored gold fish as my snack. During my first meeting with a client I might have them separate the goldfish into piles based on their colors and then assign something to each color for them to share. I might have the red be "something that makes you mad," and the green be "something that scares you." This provides a non-threatening, easy way for us to get to know one another. I even play sometimes too :)
When I was working as a school based therapist, I found that snack provide a wonderful closing to the session for a child before returning to class. If a child had gotten really wound up and energetic during a session, they could relax and calm before returning to class. Also, if they had experienced other strong emotions during their session, they could regain their composure before facing their peers again.
The greatness that comes from snack time:
- Builds attachment skills within the child through nurture (part of the theraplay model)
- Creates a routine and ritual that a child can rely on and find security in
- Gives the child a chance to process their session
- Can include family members to have structured sharing time before ending the session
- Can provide time to read a book to a child and family
- Gives the child a chance to soothe and calm before returning to the real world
- Gives me as the therapist an opportunity to gather information if needed by structuring a game to play with the snack
- If working with on building attachment, you can include the parent in snack time and build that bond
- Great for group therapy with children, because it can provide a structured sharing time or story time
- It is fun for the child!
- Even teenagers and adults love it and look forward to it. Many are curious what game we will play during snack time each week.
What are your thoughts on snack time? Therapists, do you use snack time in your sessions? Teachers, do you find benefits in snack time? Parents, how do you feel about snack during a counseling session?