In the work that I do with my clients, I personally like to combine directive and non-directive play therapy. One of the primary reasons that I do this is because there are certain topics that are not addressed solely in non-directive play therapy, including coping skills. In traditional Child-Centered Play Therapy, therapists are encouraged to teach parents coping skills in consultation to then teach their child. While I agree and teach parents coping skills, I additionally believe there are benefits in teaching the child coping skills as well.
One skill that I have been increasingly teaching is called Power Posing. Power posing is the act of taking a posture of confidence, even when you don’t feel so confident, to make yourself more dominant.
There is scientific evidence about power posing and everything! Social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s research showed that standing or sitting a certain way triggers immediate changes in your body chemistry. Power posing can affect the way you do your job and interact with other people. It might even have an effect on your chances of success. Cuddy states that power posing is about opening up.You stretch and expand your body to take up as much space as possible, similar to how primates behave in the wild. Cuddy’s research shows that after assuming a high-power pose for just two minutes, your testosterone levels (the “dominance” hormone) can rocket 20% while your cortisol levels (the “stress” hormone) fall sharply. This allows you to better handle stressful situations.
Here’s how to teach it to your clients:
- Discuss coping skills with your client, stating that they are techniques that can be used when experiencing difficult emotions, such as anger, sadness, anxiety, and so on. State that this coping skill is best for when you are feeling scared, worried, embarrassed, or anxious
- Introduce the “Power Pose” coping skill. Explain how taking a powerful stance for a few minutes is proven to help people feel more confident.
note: I find that some of my clients are curious and really enjoy learning about the science behind the power pose.
- Have the child take a “Power Pose” for two minutes. Have them place their feet in a wide stance, hands on their hips, shoulders back, and head up high. Make it fun by counting down the time or playing some fun music.
Have any of you tried the “Power Pose” before with your clients? How did it go? I’d love to hear your experiences!