Swinging from thing to thing, from feeling to feeling, up and down.
Having good times on the swing.
Maybe falling off.
Getting back on and going forward.
On the outside I look fine, people don’t know.
On top of everything. Don’t feel like I am going to fall down any time soon. Smile on my face symbolises pride. I’ve climbed the whole tree but still [have] more to go. Still possible to get higher than just the tree. May have scratches from falling on my way up
The first picture was completed at one of our first meetings with 13 year old Jack, whose father had died just six months before. I simply asked him “which one of the characters best reflects how you are feeling today?” You can see that there are a number of figures giving endless possibilities around emotional meanings. Jack chose the figure swinging on the tree; at first glance he appears happy and content. But you can see from Jack’s words that although he is smiling, on the inside he is not. He swings from feeling to feeling from thing to thing. Jack meant that every hour, day or week can be different for him. Jack said he could fall off at any time that he can be feeling happy but that can change just on a word or sound or even a smell. He talks about falling off and then getting back on, this relates to having to move on through his life and the changes, and that it is really hard and was something he didn’t want to have to do.
Jack had a number of one to one sessions with the Noah’s Ark team and attended an outdoor activity weekend. The second picture was completed on his last session. As you can see Jack has coloured in a different figure, this symbolises his progression through his grief by the figure at the highest point, his words explain his choice. Jack is far from naïve and is aware that he has a long way to go; he still feels pain and heartache and will use the strategies he has learnt to help him with his thoughts memories and feelings. His says one of his biggest tools is talking.
The colour choice and meaning is individual for each child and children may use the same figure but it could mean something very different. Which one would you choose today?