It works best with school age kiddos and sometimes adolescents, especially artistic adolescents. We first talk about the changes that come with each new season and the pros and cons of those changes. This is a good way to see how individuals have unique feelings, opinions and interests. It is also a good way to discuss change as it occurs naturally on earth and in life.
I used this project in a grief group for siblings who had lost a brother or sister in the PICU. It was a group of six siblings between the ages of 6 and 11. For the privacy of each child I will not show their trees although I will say there was some powerful work done as each carefully considered the changes that have come since their loss.
Some therapeutic activities do not elicit much conversation this one, however, ended up with over 20 minutes of discussion. Each child chose to share (although not required to) and each carefully explained the changes that have occurred in their life, as well as, changes they wish to see in the future.
These changes included an empty chair at the dinner table, a mom who went back to work, loss of a playmate and an empty bunk bed in a shared room. One brave child even communicated her wish that her brother's room would be cleaned out so the family could stop pretending he was coming back.
I love using art in therapeutic activities because so much work is done in the process of creating and children benefit greatly from the freedom to be creative in a safe space without the need to use words as a means of communicating.
This activity could be used to work through many different changes including: moving to a new city, changing schools, adding to the family, divorce and so many more. What ways have you used trees for therapeutic activities?