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Children can play at ‘throwing abusers to the sharks’ using new therapy

Trying to repair the damage inflicted on a child who has been the victim of sexual abuse is a difficult and harrowing job, but regular therapy sessions can make a whole world of difference to them now and in later life.

One therapist has developed a way that allows children to consign their abusers to a remote desert island that is surrounded by shark-infested waters, which helps the victim take charge of the healing process.

Linda Shaw works with young people between the ages of four and 18 years old at an NSPCC project in Gillingham, Kent. The victims she sees may have suffered anything from an inappropriate touch to rape. With the younger children, the use of play is used more often, as building up trust can take a long time.

However, the inventive ‘three islands’ therapy she employs has seen people increase their confidence and feel in charge of their own lives once more.

Ms Shaw explained, “There is one island where the child lives, which is linked to a second island but protected with a drawbridge which they control, allowing who they want to join them. A third island is surrounded by sharks and has no means of escape. Seeing who they place on which island can be very illuminating.”

During one of her sessions, one boy wanted to enact war games with her, but his army always had to win. She said, “Suddenly, I was allowed to throw hand grenades at his soldiers and the next time I was allowed to kill them all. This was his way of showing he was accepting me.”

Ms Shaw also revealed that some children who have suffered abuse at a younger age may become ‘emotionally frozen’, with something as small as a noise prompting a flashback.

View the original Metro article here.  

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Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

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