Abbie had always loved dolls. She would play with them for hours on end, setting up afternoon tea parties and dances and creating worlds that were filled with adventures, joy and hope. Her play reflected her own world that was safe and assured and happy. But her world changed when her mother’s new boyfriend began stealing into Abbie’s room and sexually abusing her. Abbie’s play stopped. Her world of imagination crumbled.
Not long after 7 year-old Simon entered our therapeutic care program, he told his carer Joanne about his three imaginary friends: Peter, a boy who was strong and tough and stabbed people; Ryan, who punched and hit and hurt people; and Killer, a dog who bit and barked and kept people away.
When Joanne asked, “Why do you have these friends who are so mean and scary?” Simon thought for a moment and replied: “To protect me.”
Research has shown us that exploring children’s senses through toys and games helps to unlock the trauma held in children’s bodies. However, we found that there were very few sensory toys and games available that met the needs of our specialised approach to helping children’s healing, so with generous funding from fashion house Gucci, we developed our own range of sensory dolls for use with children in counselling.
The Big Tree
We’ve launched a new app to support children to have fun while they practise calming techniques and listen to stories that teach them problem solving strategies. Called ‘The Big Tree,’ the app is specifically designed for children under eight years of age. Featuring the voices of our patron, Chris Hemsworth, our ambassador, Nadine Garner, and Chris’s mum Leonie Hemsworth, it uses narratives, games and creative activities to help children learn how relationships can support them to meet challenges that can feel overwhelming on their own.