Case study 5: Rhea’s story

When this group goes away some people might feel kind of a bit left out because there’s no one to talk to or everyone’s laughing at you and you can’t really discuss it -why you’re left out ’. (11-yr old Rhea)

Eleven year old Rheaof slightly below average academic ability, was on the SEN register at School Action for emotional difficulties.   There had been child protection issues when she was younger and as a consequence she had no contact with her father. She was of slightly below average academic ability.

While she did not present with behavioural difficulties she could become very distraught at times. The SENCO said that she had been referred to the group because at the beginning of the year she was very upset and ‘had a couple of days when she got in a complete state – beside herself, stuff with friendships’.   

The SENCO added, ‘it really seems to have helped, the time she has coming here…it’s great for her’.

 Rhea herself described the group as  ‘fun’ and said she particularly liked the feelings check-in because ‘you get to tell what you feel’.  She enjoyed the quiet of the group describing it as ‘a peaceful place, a break away from the classroom’   and said she liked to ‘let my imagination go’.

Rhea said her story The Magic Stone was one that was particularly special for her. The main character, John, is a seven year old boy who has his magic dream-maker stone stolen and this means he can only make nightmares. On his journey to find the stone he is followed by a rain cloud. At one point in the story he notices the rain cloud is only above him and his dog:

He tried to run away from it but wherever he went the cloud followed him. He was now out of breath from doing all the running.  He just sat under the umbrella which was under the rain cloud which was under the trees which was under the clear blue sky.

When he gets angry with the cloud it just gets bigger and starts to speak and tease him.  The boy cannot believe his ears. He feels that his head has gone mad’  and says he has ‘an image of my head trying to bomb the world’ .  However after a rest in a tree house he has an idea that instead of getting cross with the cloud he could compliment it:

‘I’ve sussed you out’ John said walking over to the cloud.  ‘You are very pretty’. The Cloud looked at John and grew a size smaller.  ‘Your wind smells like fresh flowers’. The cloud grew another size smaller. ‘ I knew my dream was right.  Your rain is like a constant reminder of summer’. The cloud grew a size smaller. 

The cloud then offers to fly John to where he can find his precious dream-maker stone.

The cloud in this story seems to be a powerful metaphor for the mood that Rhea feels persecutes her at times. In her interview Rhea mentioned how she particularly enjoyed the group ‘because we always get to listen to other people’s stories which can give us ideas as well.

This is evident in her story when she uses the tree house as the place for a rest and where a new mode of interacting with the cloud can be discovered. In one of the teacher’s stories, a fairy-like creature also lives in a tree house in a school playground and helps to sort out friendship difficulties at playtime. Although Rhea’s story picks up on the teacher’s idea of a tree house as a place where problems can be turned around, the rest of the story is her own.

In interview Rhea said that the group had helped her to write more and that she had ‘more descriptive words, which help me in the classroom’.  However, her statement about the group ending, indicated that she would benefit from some other supportive group in the future:

‘When this group goes away some people might feel kind of a bit left out because there’s no one to talk to or everyone’s laughing at you and you can’t really discuss it -why you’re left out ’

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Therapeutic Story Writing book coverTherapeutic Storywriting – A Practical Guide to Developing Emotional Literacy.

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