“If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourselves into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will be not only your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.” -JK Rowling, at a commencement speech
Books – especially series written for middle grade readers – have often inspired my work. Children learn through metaphor, and the stories we construct about our own lives shape the way we see and move through the world. So many incredible chronicles line the shelves of my library, tales that weave the mystery of maintaining integrity, kindness, and hope while persevering through seemingly insurmountable obstacles: to name a few – Star Wars; The Chronicles of Narnia; A Wrinkle in Time; Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief; The Kane Chronicles; The Hobbit; Lord of the Rings; and of course, the Harry Potter series.
In honor of the eighth HP book release tomorrow (or 12:01 am tonight, if you’re like me), I’m sharing a glimpse into some of the Harry Potter inspired therapy activities that I offer to clients in session.
- The Mirror of Erised. The Mirror of Erised reflects your heart’s deepest desire. Imagine standing before such glass. Draw or write about what would be reflected if you peered into this mirror. What do you see there? What does your heart want most?
- What’s in your Room of Requirement? HP lovers know that this secret room in the walls of Hogwarts houses the needs of the person who enters. What would be revealed when you cross the threshold into the Room of Requirement? What do you need to make it through the obstacle before you? Where is it located? How can you obtain it? Who might help you to grasp this need?
- The Cloak of Invisibility. If you were invisible, what would you do? Draw or create a cloak of invisibility. What materials would you use? What would it look like? How would you feel if you could hide yourself from others, and what parts would you keep hidden? In what ways does it help to hide? What are the limits – can you accomplish all you need in life if you’re invisible? How can you shed your cloak of invisibility once you wear it, and why would you want to?
- What’s your Patronus? Translated from Latin, Expecto Patronum means, “I await a guardian.” A patronus usually takes on the form of an animal in the stories, and appears to drive out the darkest evil. What form would yours be? What do you need protection from? How will the patronus defend you? If the patronus can talk, what advice would it give you to help in this situation?
- Animagus. An animagus is a person who can transform into an animal (think Sirius and Professor McGonagall). Modified from a popular art therapy activity, this one invites you to identify and then draw an animal which represents how you see yourself. What qualities do you share with this animal? Now draw an animal that represents how others see you. Again, what qualities do you share with this animal? Third, draw an animal that represents how you would like others and yourself to view you. Why did you choose this animal? What qualities does this animal have that appeal to you? How can you embody these qualities in various situations in your own life? How would things be different?
- Boggart. Defeated with the spell Riddikulus!, a boggart is a creature which takes on the shape of your greatest fear. If a boggart were to appear before you, what would it look like? Draw this boggart. What would it sound like? What noises does it make and what does it say? In order to make the spell work, one must imagine a way to make the creature look hilarious. Laughter dispels fear and tension in life. How can we look at this situation differently to remove its power?
- Portkey. A portkey is an object which seems very ordinary, but actually holds the power to transport those who hold it to another place. If you could go anywhere, where would you go and why? What would your portkey look like? How and where would you find it? Tell a story of how you got from where you’ve come to where you want to go.
These are just a few examples of how I integrate metaphor from popular children’s stories into my work at the therapy office. If you’re interested to learn more, or ready to try some of these in a safe environment with a caring therapist, contact me today! For now, I’m off to the bookstore 🙂