This activity is a great tool to show a child the power of expressing a worry they are feeling instead of holding it inside. The activity allows the child to see a visual representation of how the act of saying the worry out loud will lessen the influence of the worry. This activity can be used individually or in a group setting.
- Fish Bowl filled with water
- Plastic Fish
- Transparency Markers
Step 1: Discussion on Worry
Begin the session with an overview of worry. Ask the client share how they feel when they are worried (including physical symptoms.) Ask the client brainstorm different ways to help reduce anxious symptoms.
A great supplement to this activity is reading the book, “Sophie’s Fish” written by A. E. Cannon. The book illustrates how the main character, Jake, worries about babysitting a fish prior to actually having to babysit. The worry gets bigger and bigger in Jake’s head and the book explores how this impacts him. (Note: I covered the last page of the book because it appears to confirm Jake’s worries by showing a giant fish. While this makes for a cute story, I felt like this took away from the therapeutic benefit of the book.)
Step 2: Identify Worry and Watch it Disappear
Show the client the fish bowl and explain that today we are going to talk about a specific worry that the client experiences.
Ask the client to say out loud one thing that they worry about. (Note: If you are in a group setting, make sure that you provide the client the opportunity to whisper the worry in your ear instead of saying it out loud. I normally, remind the other group members how important it is to respect another group member’s decision to whisper their worry.) Write the worry on the fish with a transparency marker. (It’s important that you use a transparency marker!)
Ask the client place the fish in the fish bowl and then watch what happens. The worry will begin to fade away in the water.
Ask the client to shake off the remaining worry.
Step 3: Explore & Express Activity
Ask the client to explore and express what happened to their worry. Make sure that they understand that saying the worry out loud with a safe person prevents the worry from growing huge in their head. Also, point out that the worry doesn’t always automatically go away, sometimes it might take time for it to get smaller. Ask the client to reflect on a time that they had a worry that seemed huge at the time, but once the processed the worry with someone else it helped it go away.