Kelly’s Story

Kelly was a 9-year-old girl when she was referred to KidsAid. Kelly’s mother was concerned with the changes she was seeing in her daughter, who was becoming increasingly withdrawn and expressing feelings of sadness.

Kelly had experienced some significant loss during the last few years as both her maternal grandparents passed away within months of each other and she had recently witnessed her dog be tragically killed by a car outside their family home.

Following referral, Kelly was assessed and Dramatherapy was recommended. This form of therapy provides an individual the opportunity to access a safe environment to promote psychological, emotional, and social change through a variety of mediums including stories, objects, puppetry, improvisation, drama, play and movement.

It was the aim of therapy that through this process, Kelly could explore her experiences in an indirect and contained way to develop greater self-awareness, therefore enabling change to occur.

Kelly attended her first therapy session with the support of her mother who waited outside for her. When she entered the room, Kelly appeared shy; she spoke very quietly as she explored the room and gave little eye contact. The core of work with Kelly initially was building her sense of safety with her therapist, so she could explore her feelings and come to understand herself better.

During the initial sessions, themes were emerging that began to be explored, including strong negative feelings of self, such as guilt, shame, and low confidence. Kelly seemed drawn to the sand tray from the beginning of her therapy and would explore her inner world, creating images and sharing her story through the miniatures.

As sessions progressed, themes around challenging relationships with friends and family dynamics were explored, alongside the expectations of self. Kelly began to recognise some of these challenges as stories began to emerge through her play, which helped Kelly in processing and articulating her feelings as she began to reflect on her understanding of self. Through this process Kelly developed a story of a girl who has lost much and felt lost in a world that was moving on without her. She was able to revisit some of her memories and verbalise her feelings of guilt, shame and anger through her character and storytelling. She began to demonstrate more insight into her behaviour and understanding of her own grief and loss in therapy and she developed in confidence. She began to give direct eye contact with her therapist and was able to speak more openly around positive and negative relationships and begin to let go of the negative statements of self, where she moved from a place of blame and guilt to acceptance and self-awareness.

When reflecting on the artwork and process at the end of therapy Kelly was able to identify themes of growth, particularly around relationships and future opportunities. She was able to trust the process and share genuine emotions which had previously been difficult to verbalise.

Dramatherapy gave Kelly the time and space she needed to reflect on her lived experiences and develop a positive relationship within herself, as well as have a positive outlook on her future. Therapy with KidsAid allowed Kelly to feel held, to be heard and to move forwards with her life.

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