Unscaring the Scary

Scary spider by Ted, age 17.

With Halloween around the corner, I wanted to share a useful tool for helping children confront – and perhaps overcome – their fears. This one comes from Dr. David A. Crenshaw, director of the Rhinebeck Child and Family Center in Rhinebeck, New York. It is a projective drawing technique called Party Hats on Monsters, and is designed “to address multiple fears, phobias, frightening dreams, nightmares, and PTSD symptoms in children.”

Party Hats on Monsters involves two steps. In the first step, you ask the child to draw something they are afraid of, and to make it as scary as possible. In the second step, you then ask the child to draw the scary thing again, but this time have fun and make it funny or silly and not scary anymore. From the website:

By the very act of trying to reproduce on paper the frightening image and discovering that no matter how hard they try they are unable to make it as scary as the image in their mind, they discover the power of defusing the fear by putting it out on paper and getting it out of their head…Also when you change the monster, shrink him, or put a party hat on him, he is no longer scary at all. The most amazing thing that children discover is that when they change the image out here on paper they can also change the scary image in their head.

For the full directions and more information, click here.


4 thoughts on “Unscaring the Scary

  1. Pingback: Grown Up Fears « School Psych Scholar

  2. I understand this with small children, but alas, after you grow up, you actively seek out things that can scare you. And you’re usually quite disappointed when you fail. Take horror movies for example. I watch as adult audiences leave the theater, feeling ripped off, because the movie failed to scare them. Just my 2¢ worth.

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