How to Talk to Children About Tragedies in the News: Wisdom from the Late Mr. Rogers

The recent tragedy in Boston may leave parents wondering how to address devestating news with young children. While I want so much to shield my own child from these horrible disasters in the news, it is realistic that he may hear about it from some other sources. I think Mr. Rogers addresses these issues the best.

Fred Rogers Talks about Tragedies in the News

Mr. Rogers: Look for the Helpers

Huffington Post: Article Highlighting Wisdom from Mr. Rogers


Benefits of Therapy – Sam Feels Better Now! An Interactive Story for Children

Read the Most Recent Review of Sam Feels Better Now! and Interactive Story for Children.

Benefits of Therapy – Sam Feels Better Now! An Interactive Story for Children

Please Explain “Anxiety” To Me by Laurie Zelinger, PHD and Jorden Zelinger

 I am always looking for ways to explain anxiety to children in a way that they will understand. I use a lot of stories in play therapy because I love the simple way that children’s books present difficult issues. That is why I am glad to have read Please Explain “Anxiety” to Me by  Laurie Zelinger, PhD, MS, RPT-S &; Jordan Zelinger, Illustrated by: Elisa Sabella. It begins by using dinasaurs to explain the “fight or flight” response and then relates what they needed to survive with the human fight or flight response. It uses easy to understand terms to help the reader to identify signs of anxiety and understand why people experience anxiety. I have read this story to adult and children who are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders. The pictures are colorful and help explain the story visually. I like how it uses a simple illustration and clear explanations of anxiety and how it affects a person. The illustrations are colorful and add to the content of the book. I definitely recommend this book to therapists and parents who need to communicate what anxiety is using concise language.

To Purchase Please Explain “Anxiety” To Me, visit your favorite bookseller:

Barnes and Noble:Available in paperback and Nook format
Amazon: Available in paperback, hardcover and kindle
Loving Healing Press

You can visit Laurie’s website and see the other books she has written and learn more about her services and background as a play therapist. I look forward to seeing future children’s books from this author.

The Play Therapy Mystery Counseling Session…give away

If you are like me, you are on a budget, and don’t have a lot of money to always spend on toys or craft materials. That’s why I am so glad and inspired to find the Play Therapy Mystery Counseling Session from Dr. Michelle Stangline. In this exercise, the therapist creates and item needed for play therapy or creative therapy with objects he or she already has (no buying anything you don’t already have!). I thought this would be a fun exercise to try myself, and involve you! Please visit the “Creative Counseling Play Therapy Mystery Counseling Session” page, check the list of possible items that I might want for my playroom and comment below which one you would like to see me make. After I finish the object I will post a picture of it on my blog. As an added bonus, I will randomly select a reader from the comments who will receive a copy of my book “Sam Feels Better Now! and Interactive Story for Children.”

I will be taking votes through Monday February 6, 2012, Thanks!

Talking to Children about Hurricanes

Wondering how to talk to your children about preparing and the effects of hurricanes? Sesame Street has developed a hurricane tool kit to assist parents and children in talking about and preparing for a natural disaster. There are 5 videos, each discussing different aspects of preparation and also tips on dealing with the aftermath, such as having a routine, finding support, and self care. I watched several of the video clips, each about 15 minutes long, and they show realistic emotions, preparations and after effects. You can check out, click on the parents section and click on the tool kits tab. There are other topics addressed as well. As a therapist, I appreciate the approach that the folks at Sesame Street took on dealing with a disaster that can cause lots of instability for children and their families.

“Always My Brother” Interview with author Jean Reagan about Sibling Death

Always My Brother CoverI am thrilled to post this interview of author Jean Reagan, who is the author of “Always My Brother.” “Always My Brother” is a story for children who are dealing with sibling death. This is the first book I have read on this specific form of grief, and I highly recommend it for use with clients, and for parents who may be dealing with their own child’s death. Please visit Jean’s website and read the Story Behind section if you would like more information about their journey of grief, and inspiration for this book.

1. What inspired you to make this a children’s book?

First, some background. In 2005 after a roller-coaster year of hopes and setbacks, our nineteen-year old son, John, died of a drug overdose Jane, our seventeen-year old daughter became an only child. As we faced our grief, I watched how the death of a sibling is discounted. Well-meaning people offered me (and my husband) comfort, but rarely seemed to acknowledge Jane’s tragic loss.

Through research I learned that sibling death is often considered the unrecognized grief.Surviving siblings are sometimes even admonished to be “extra good,” because their parents are grieving.In “ALWAYS MY BROTHER,” I wanted to honor siblings for the devastating loss they face, to normalize the contradictory emotions they experience, and to offer them realistic hope.

I chose to write a picture book rather than a teen book for several reasons.A. There are many teen books about loss of all kinds, including sibling death.B. There are no picture books aimed at a young audience on this topic.(In fact, a “Needed Subjects” column in a writers’ magazine expressed a need for picture books about the death of a sibling.)C. As an author, picture books are what I write.

On a personal level, I wrote this book because I wanted my daughter to understand that at some level I understand the utter devastation of her loss.

Because “ALWAYS MY BROTHER” is aimed at children it does not exactly mirror our own family story.I made the characters younger and did not specify the cause of death.Yet the book reflects the emotions and experiences of our grief journey.For example, I made sure to include a returning-to-school scene, because that is a particularly tough step for grieving children.

For the grieving child or family I wanted to:

  • portray and affirm their often confusing, contradictory emotions.
  • offer realistic hope that with the passage of time the gripping, paralyzing pain would ease as the family members cherish and honor the memories of their loved one.
  • create opportunities for shared conversations.

For friends, extended family, classmates, and teachers observing the grief I wanted to:

  • provide a window for them to see and better understand the internal grief.
  • create opportunities for conversation.
  • foster courage in them to reach out to the grieving child or family.

2. Have you written other books before?

I had written over ten picture-book manuscripts, all silly and quirky. “ALWAYS MY BROTHER” was the first one I sold. When I told my daughter I had sold a manuscript, this one, she hugged me and said, “That’s the one I wanted you to sell.”

My second book, “HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDPA,” will be published by Knopf in the spring of 2012, in time for Fathers’ Day! And, yes, it’s silly and quirky.

3. Besides writing, what else do you do (do you have another job, stay at home, etc..?)

For four months each summer, my husband and I serve as wilderness volunteers in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. We live in a patrol cabin that has no running water or electricity. There are bars on the windows, to keep out the bears. To reach the cabin you hike (or canoe) four miles from the nearest parking lot. Our patrol area has twelve shoreline campsites scattered across three lakes. We love being surrounded by nature, and we love visiting with hikers and campers from all over the world.

The rest of the year I write and enjoy modern conveniences!

4. What is the main lesson you want children to gain from this book?

I want grieving children to feel acknowledged for their loss, comforted that their contradictory, raw emotions are “okay” and normal, and reassured that their excruciating pain will lighten as time goes on because they carry their loved one’s memory with them always, in their daily life.

5. What would you tell another parent going through the loss of a child?

If possible, seek out peers for you and your child. By “peers” I mean other parents who have lost children and other children who have lost siblings. Many hospitals and therapy centers have grief groups for all ages. Compassionate Friends is a national non-profit organization that offers comfort, resources, and workshops for grieving families. There are local chapter meetings throughout every state. I am also deeply grateful to my two friends who had lost children before me, because they helped “light the path” on my grief journey. They still do.

Writing in a journal always felt like a chore to me. Yet, after John died, I found it very helpful. I didn’t write poetically or lyrically. In fact mostly I made lists. Lots and lots of lists. And they were most definitely NOT “to do” or “should” lists, but instead were “memory,” “wailing,” or “questions” lists. (The latest issue of Grief Digest includes my article, “Baby Steps for the Non-Journaler.”)

Keep talking.Within your immediate family, your broader family.With friends.With colleagues, neighbors, and co-workers.

6. Are you working on any new writing projects for children?

I am in the early stages of two picture book manuscripts: one about a father and toddler’s outing to a park and another one about a new sibling. Fingers crossed that these will become books one day!

7. What would you like for child therapists to know about counseling a child and family who has lost a sibling/child?

Our therapist told my husband and me, “Be gentle with yourself.And be gentle with each other.”We both found that very helpful, especially as we faced particularly difficult and dark moments.

We all grieve differently; there is no right or wrong way to grieve.That can be a hard thing for couples (or family members) to understand.For example, my husband has never read my book.He is very supportive in every way, (He wrote John’s obituary, he faced the media, he created my website, etc.) yet he does not have the emotional strength to face the fictional grief in my book.He is already dealing with all he can.I am perfectly fine and understanding of this.We all do what we can and don’t do what we can’t.

A book I found particularly helpful is A Broken Heart Still Beats: After Your Child Dies. Two grieving mothers (a journalist and psychotherapist) organize a remarkable compilation of poetry, fiction, essays, and journal entries about the pain of losing a child.

8. What are the top 3 things that helped your family through this loss?

Our family has always been open and honest that drug overdose is the cause of John’s death.For us, this decision has made conversations about his death and our grief easier, more helpful, and less guarded.Grieving is devastating enough without coping with layers of judgment or shame!

Anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays are particularly difficult.(As much as I heard this, I was still surprised, over and over.)Creating alternative activities while hanging onto cherished traditions is tricky, but critical to try to balance.Anticipating and planning ahead helps.We joined other families in their celebrations or we traveled to other places to help “mix up” our traditions.

Just like the family of four in “ALWAYS MY BROTHER,” our family became a family of three.I remember telling the therapist that our family now felt like a three-legged dog, but then right away adding, “But not happy, like all three-legged dogs seem to be.”The three-legged dog became my analogy for how our family of three will always be missing that “fourth,” but that we would learn to “walk” again and to be happy.Consequently I included the three-legged dog metaphor in my book.

_____________________Jean small

For more about my grief journey or about my writing journey, visit

“Always My Brother” Can be purchased at: Amazon, Tilbury House, and other major book sellers.

Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolescents and Families: Practitioners Share their Most Effective Interventions


lowenstein_2006I am always looking for free or low cost resources, as I am a therapist on a budget (and I am sure there are many of you out there like me!). With so much info on the web it’s hard to narrow down what’s good, what’s not, and how I can find the resources I need for my clients without spending a fortune. That’s why I am soooo glad that I was sent this free copy of Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolescents and Families: Practitioners Share their Most Effective Interventions, Edited By Liana Lowenstein, MSW, RSW, CPT-S.

This ebook is a compilation of over 100 pages of techniques submitted by multiple therapists. It is divided in to different sections: 1. Engagement and Assessment Interventions, 2. Treatment Interventions, and 3. Termination Interventions. Each intervention lists goals of the intervention, materials, advanced preparation, and detailed instructions. As I read through some of the descriptions, I found them easy to follow and detailed enough that I felt that I could easily follow the intervention. The list of contributors includes 35 different therapists, many of which are authors/presenters themselves. The best part is, that the interventions come from various treatment models, including family, sandtray, and more directive, and also integrative models. I love this, as I pull from various theories myself, and therapists from different backgrounds will all be able to glean from this book due to the wide range of ideas. I recommend this book to any child/adolescent/family therapist looking for creative ideas for their clients, as it is FREE!!! and FULL of creative interventions. What do you have to lose? I will be using this resource for a long time, and can’t wait to try some of the ideas with my clients.


Liana Lowenstein is a presenter and also author of multiple books including:

1. Paper Dolls & Paper Airplanes: Therapeutic Exercises for Sexually Traumatized Children (with Crisci & Lay)

2. Creative Interventions for Troubled Children & Youth

3. Creative Interventions for Children of Divorce.

4. Creative Interventions for Bereaved Children.

5. NEWEST PUBLICATION: Creative Family Therapy Techniques: Play, Art, and Expressive Activities to Engage Children in Family Sessions


She has edited: Volumes One and Two of Assessment and Treatment Activities for Children, Adolescents, and Families: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Techniques, and will be launching Volume Three this year.


To sign up for the free ebook, visit Liana Lowenstein’s website and sign up for her free monthly newsletter. You can also view her upcoming workshops.

“Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind”

“Snotty Kid. Be Gone!”

“Young Ruthie’s mood changed overnight, her smiles slunk off in gloom.

She wouldn’t talk to Mom or Dad. She refused to leave her room.

Her parents scolded, begged and coaxed, but Ruthie paid no mind,
Her moods grew big and ugly – like some Hippo’s fat behind.”

At the end of my first read through, of “Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind,” by Margot Finke, I thought “this is perfect for so many of my kids!”

When Ruthie moved, and left all her friends and old home behind her personality and moods completely changed. She sulked, and became rude to her parents, argued, and had tantrums. Finally, she drove her parents crazy and her father said, “Snotty Kid. Be Gone!” Then, she had a Magic Moment that helped her reconcile with her parents. It ends on a positive note, and Ruthie feels happier.

Changes can affect children in many ways, especially a move far away from friends. Ruthie’s story is like so many children who deal with changes in every day life, and often parents become frustrated themselves. Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind, by Margot Finke, Illustrated by K.C. Snider, is a light hearted, realistic look at how children often express their emotions. The rhyming feels comfortable to read, and the story has a good pace. It kept my attention throughout. There is a short teacher/parent guide in the back to help adults talk to children about their feelings and also other resources for parents.

Many children who are angry, going through change or a move of any kind would benefit from this story. Ruthie captures these feelings on many levels, including showing anger through arguing and tantrums, and also sulking and feeling bad about herself. As a child therapist, I see many children go through lots of changes and reflect behaviors and emotions like Ruthie. I would recommend this book therapists and parents alike for any child going through change.

Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind” is available from G.A.P Publishing (Guardian Angel Publishing) in Soft Cover – CD – eBook download.

(Parent-Teacher guide included)

View the Book Trailer:

Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind

Author: Margot E. Finke
Illustrations: KC Snider

** Snider is a well known fine artist who regularly shows her work in galleries, as well as known for her book illustrations.

Print ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-059-0
eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-060-6

Where to buy:

Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP)
(GAP) :

Margot Finke

** A Personal Autograph comes with each hard copy bought from Margot’s website + a bookmark.

Will also be available from Amazon, B&N, Target and more.

I Survived the APT Conference!

I Survived the APT Conference!

I went to the Association for Play Therapy Conference in Atlanta, GA last week. What a blast! I enjoyed several workshops, and lots of toy shopping. I even visited the Self Esteem Shop to find my book, Sam Feels Better Now: An Interactive Story for Children, sitting on the shelf. I met with colleagues, friends, and speakers. It reminded me of what I love about APT and play therapy.

Highlights of the conference included a plenary speaker, Dr. Eliana Gil who shared her journey to play therapy, the new Leadership Academy Graduates, and the presentation of the Key Awards, including, APT Service Award , Lifetime Achievement Award, Professional Education & Training Award , Public Education & Promotion Award, Research Award, and Student Research Award.

This was my first Association for Play Therapy National Conference, and I am looking forward to attending again in the future.

Learning to Love Yourself and Connect with Others

Robin Marvel is an author, Empowerment and life positivity coach and motivational speaker for children and adults. Using tools from her “Awakening Consciousness” book series she is expanding creativity and self awareness in beings everywhere.

Robin is Leading Out Loud as the owner of Marvelous Empowerment. Providing a variety of workshops to encourage empowerment in all ages. More information on Marvelous Empowerment can be found at, a website designed to strengthen your being while encouraging Universal Awareness.

Check for upcoming lectures and workshops.

I Interviewed Robin about her book, “Awakening Consciousness, A Girl’s Guide.”

    I first started writing as a child. I loved being able to create something I could grow and learn from.

    What was your inspiration to write “Awakening Consciousness, a Girl’s Guide?”

My inspiration to write “Awakening Consciousness A Girl’s Guide!” was my four daughters. I wanted to make sure they were aware of the big picture of life. I also wanted to encourage girls of all ages to love themselves and create a sense of self security within.

What age group is it appropriate for?

“Awakening Consciousness A Girl’s Guide!” does not have a specific age group. As a parent you can use it with your children as young as 1, young girls can use it as well as adults. Wherever you are on your path you can benefit from the guide.

What is the goal of the book?

The goal of “Awakening Consciousness A Girl’s Guide!” is to create a sense of self security and love within all.

How could your book be used in a therapeutic setting?

My book could be used in a therapeutic setting because it is very motivating and hands on. It offers a variety of empowering, self esteem building exercises that are fun and will create security in whoever is doing them. It is also a workbook so people are able to keep track of their progress.

What advice to parents do you have about using this book?

My advice to parents is to use this book to connect with your child. Encourage your child to explore who they are and love every part of who they are. Allow them to expand on their individuality. As parents we have the opportunity to raise confident, empowered beings that will change our world!

What is your favorite activity in the book? There are so many that look fun! (I liked the idea of the armoa buddy).

This is a hard question. I love all the activities . You are right the aromabuddy is so fun. If I had to pick a favorite I think it would be the ChakraCizes. The chakraCizes really get the people moving and they instantly can feel a shift in their energy so they know they are working!

Where can your book be purchased?

My book can be purchased in any bookstore as well as, and

What other projects are you working on?

I am fortunate enough to have many projects I am working on. “Awakening Consciousness A Woman’s Guide!” will be out in 2010. I am also working on my next book “10 EmPOWERaids to Inspire Mind, Body and Spirit”

I am also the owner of Marvelous EmPOWERment ~ offering a variety of empowering workshops for all ages throughout the world.

Do you have a job other than writing? What is it?

My other jobs include being a mom to four of the most amazing beings as well as the instructor for Marvelous EmPOWERment. I am also an Energetic Specialist and motivational speaker for all ages.

What is an Energetic Specialist, and who could benefit from one?

An energetic Specialist is a person that will help you to raise your energy level through positive activities. You will be educated to know your unique energy profile and guide you towards activities that will strengthen your vibrations.
Everyone could use an energetic specialist. No matter where you are at on your path you can always use coping mechanisms to strengthen your integrated whole.

What are your future plans as a writer/author?

My future plans as an author are to continue to encourage empowerment and self security within all. I plan to keep writing books that will inspire beings to accept who they are with love and gratitude. I want parents to see the importance of teaching their children self security at a young age so they will not need to heal as adults.