Kids in Psych Center

by Lauren
(Albany, NY)

Question:

I am starting a relaxation therapy group. I am nervous, however, due to the clients who will be attending. I will have 5 kids (ages 12-20) who are cognitively below 10 years old. They all have ADHD, PTSD, and mental illnesses. One of them has extremely poor impulses and two of them have a very very hard time staying still even when enjoying an activity. Are there any relaxation techniques that involve the hands staying busy or moving around?

Answer:
It can be especially challenging to use relaxation techniques when it is difficult to be still, but it sounds like you have the right idea - it's not necessary to stay still to relax. Keeping moving while doing relaxation can help because the participants do not have to struggle to stay still.

The types of relaxation that involve the most movement and keep the hands busy are physical relaxation techniques (progressive relaxation, stretch and relax, etc) and creative relaxation.

A Relaxing Walk is a script that involves meditative walking. You can adapt this type of technique to other activities. It is possible to do breathing or stretching techniques while passing a ball around a circle, for example.

Sensory techniques (using real sensory experiences rather than imagining them as in the sensory relaxation scripts on this site) might also be helpful. A bit of extra sensory input - like sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair, wearing a weighted vest, or having an object to hold and manipulate in the hands - can help increase concentration and calm. Sensory experiences such as sand play, sculpting clay or dough, drawing, and otherwise experiencing touch, taste, sound, sight, and smell can be calming and facilitate relaxation.

It can be helpful to take short relaxation breaks and then return to something active, or combine relaxation techniques (such as breathing) with activities.

Good luck with your group!

Candi

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