Ever hijack a train? I haven’t, but the part of ourselves that goes unchecked will do this to our brains. Ever want to do something scary and hold off, making some sort of excuse? I have. So I talk about it with someone and do the thing. However, young clients have a more direct reasoning for avoiding the scary stuff. It has a lot to do with trust issues. What!? Children who come to counseling have trust issues? Who knew?
In order for a youngster to process and work through the reasons for distrust, there has to be a vehicle for change. Not change the child but help them change their method of thinking. To distrust the concept of talking about yourself is to perceive a danger in it. I used to distrust tall ladders and really tall buildings. My initial thought was about falling to my death. I made my great-grandmother take me back down to the ground floor as soon as we reached the second or third floor of the Statue of Liberty. But I eventually overcame this fear of heights in Airborne School. It is common practice for airborne candidates (jumping out of cargo planes) to gradually work towards an actual jump through a series of height-exposure exercises.
Fred and Wilma are the characters through which a child in therapy is able to explore personality and self without the huge level of discouragement to slap them in the face. They can be considered as avatars for the initial journey towards change and building trust in sharing their issues with another person. For example, Jimmy decides to fill in the blanks about what Fred likes to do and what he does not like to do. It is a story about the character, Fred. But as anyone who works with children know, there is some resonance of Jimmy’s thinking in everything he does.
Fred’s story is also Jimmy’s story. The more he talks about the answers to the writing prompts in the book about Fred, the less reluctant he is to acknowledge the similarities. We are gradually moving to the next phase of trust.