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1 Potestraat
Herent, Vlaanderen, 3020
Belgium

+32 491 19 41 89

Larissa Ernst, English and Afrikaans speaking clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in Leuven, Belgium.

Blog

Benny Bear helps children

Larissa Ernst

Once upon a time in a land far, far away from here there lived a little bear.  His name was Benny Bear.  Benny Bear lived in the woods with his mommy and daddy.  He loved them very much.  Benny enjoyed playing games with dad.  He also had great fun when daddy taught him how to hunt.  Benny loved it when mommy allowed him to bake with her and he felt safe when mommy tucked him in at night.  Benny was a very happy bear.

 One day something happened that broke Benny’s heart and made him feel scared … mommy and daddy told Benny that daddy will be moving to the other side of the woods and that Benny will only see daddy over weekends.  Benny could not understand what was going on, but he could feel that something is wrong.  He felt very sad and lonely …

We fall in love with stories from a very young age. They are useful to teach life lessons and to empower children. Combining storytelling with teddy bears can create effective play therapy environments to assist children dealing with emotional and psychological challenges.

Teddy Bear Therapy is a contemporary form of play therapy where children between the ages of 3 and 12 are assisted in a playful manner through storytelling as medium to solve their difficulties.  The teddy bear becomes the main character in the story that is being created between the psychologist and the child-client.  The problem for which the child has been brought to therapy is creatively ascribed to the bear in the story.  The child is then asked to take the bear home for the duration of therapy to assist the psychologist in helping the bear.  This effectively empowers the child to deal with their own difficulties in a more creative way and enhances their problem solving skills.  Sometimes the challenge the child is faced with is too complex for the child to solve.  The wise Uncle Owl is then brought into the story to assist Benny with his problem. 

In most cases the parents or teachers identify the difficulty that the child is struggling with and then communicates this to the psychologist.  This enables the psychologist to plan the story beforehand.  In cases where it is unclear what exactly the difficulty is, or when parents just want to make sure about their child’s psychological functioning and that the child is okay, the psychologist can create a story which facilitates the child to talk about his/her challenges.  Everything is dealt with on a fantasy level.  Thus, creating emotional distance between the problem and the child, which enables the child to address the problem with more ease.

The kind of difficulties which has been effectively addressed by means of Teddy Bear Therapy is wide ranging and includes: 

  • Fears and phobias
  • being bullied at school
  • poor school performance
  • behaviour problems at school
  • hyperactivity
  • withdrawn and fearsome
  • afraid of going to school
  • separation anxiety
  • lying and stealing
  • adapting to physical disability
  • self-mutilation
  • learning difficulties
  • rebellious behaviour
  • grief
  • lack of confidence
  • over-dependency
  • dealing with parental divorce
  • depression
  • dealing with hospitalisation
  • traumatisation through accidents or crime
  • rejection by friends
  • undisciplined behaviour
  • performance anxiety
  • physical and sexual abuse
  • evidence giving in court
  • adhering to diabetic diet
  • sibling rivalry.

Because of the strong empowerment built into the story and therapy process, as well as the parents’ involvement in the process, therapy is short-term and usually lasts between 4 and 8 sessions. 

One day Benny bear met the wise uncle Owl who understood Benny’s sadness and loneliness.  Uncle Owl comforted Benny and told him that although mommy and daddy does not love each other anymore Benny can still love them.  He also told Benny that he will have two homes and that it is okay to miss mommy when he is with daddy and to miss daddy when he is with mommy.  He will miss them because he loves them so, so much.  This made Benny’s heart feel better and Benny even started feeling excited about daddy’s new home.  So folks and friends, this is where our story ends.