“Our thoughts are with the many children (and their support systems) experiencing physical and emotional effects from the storm,” says author Erin Dugan, PhD, LPC-S, Associate Dean and Professor in the Department of Clinical Rehabilitation and Counseling at LSU Health New Orleans School of Allied Health Professions. “When the Lights Went Out: A Story about Hurricane Ida is our small contribution to recovery. We hope it is helpful and that teachers are able to find a way to incorporate the resource book with their students and their families as they return to school.” Dr. Dugan, a registered play therapist supervisor, is also Director of the LSU Health New Orleans Child & Family Counseling Clinic.
Developed for Kids by Kids
Three LSU Health New Orleans licensed professional counselors and registered play therapists have created a new book to help children cope with the experience and aftermath of Hurricane Ida. A couple of very talented children, Susanna (age 8) and Ellie (age 6) Frischhertz, drew the illustrations. The authors have made it available to teachers, parents, and caregivers at no charge.
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“As colleagues and friends, we were discussing how we could assist the children and families of the Greater New Orleans area and we thought, why not do what we do best and educate others on the benefits of play,” says author and Associate Professor and Acting Head of the Department of Clinical Rehabilitation and Counseling Krystal Vaughn, PhD, LPC-S, NCC, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor.
Play Therapy Builds Resilience and Reduces the Effects of Trauma
According to the Association for Play Therapy, play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows the expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.
“I experienced Hurricane Ida alongside my young children and observed them doing what children naturally do- playing out their worries and concerns,” explains author and Assistant Professor Adrianne Frischhertz, PhD, who is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor and Registered Play Therapist Supervisor. “I hope our book will assist others like them by facilitating playful exploration of their emotions, as well as connections with their parents who guide them through the book.”
The story captures both the evacuation experience as well as what it was like for those who rode out this powerful hurricane at home. It offers strategies to reduce stress and puzzles and activities for children to express their thoughts and feelings, from a 5-Finger Breath activity to a Light Bulb Maze. It encourages children to write their own hurricane stories and draw their feelings.
“I like that the story part was straightforward and understandable for children,” says Elizabeth Hartwig, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S, Associate Professor, Texas State University. “The activities at the end were also great! I think that teaching breathing and giving children the opportunity to color the feelings that they feel is a helpful addition to the book. Well done!”
Support for Caregivers During Traumatic Events
When the Lights Went Out The book also offers tips for caregivers. It provides guidance for talking to children and sharing important information, affirming their feelings, and how to do daily family check-ins.
Says Courtney Packard, Associate Editor, Rowman & Littlefield, Special Education, Early Childhood Education and Social Work, “What a fantastic resource for parents, teachers, and caregivers! Thank you for sharing. It’s so important for kids to know how to process events like this.”
“The book offers children an opportunity to play out their worries and fears when words seem to escape them,” notes Dr. Dugan. “As Dr. Garry Landreth states, ‘play is the language of the child,’ a medium through which they gain a better understanding of the world around them. The book offers children an opportunity to gain control over what they can do in a time of crisis whereby their efforts are encouraged; they can initiate and make their own decisions, and engage in the use of coping skills.”
The Association for Play Therapy, a national professional association whose members include professionals in all mental health fields across the world, is recommending that their members download the book to share with their communities.
As the recovery from Hurricane Ida will take many months in some affected areas, this resource will be invaluable for some time to come.
Click here to access your own PDF copy: