Using Disney as a therapy technique

Emma Rawlinson a school nurse in Barrow for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) has been using Disney characters as a technique to help children express their feelings.

Emma said:
“I first began using Disney characters as a technique after I visited a primary school aged boy who displayed anger issues at home. His mum got in touch expressing her concerns and felt the anger her son was displaying may have been due to the death of one of this grandparents.

“Within school the boy behaved appropriately and his teacher had no issues with his behaviour, so I decided to take a different approach to this situation.  I took  a number of colouring sheets based on the Disney film ‘Big Hero 6’ i discussed the story with the boy, explaining that he was the main character (Hiro) and his grandparent was Hiro’s brother who had died and I was there as Baymax (the character who helped Hiro in the film).

“Using this method the pupil was able to identify with the feelings he was experiencing with that of the main character and we discussed the way the character behaved. For example feelings such as; anger, withdrawal and revenge, I also looked at ways which were better for the pupil to address his feelings. The pupil was then able to identify with the main character, recognise his similar reactions and change his behaviour.”

 Emma also said:

“Most recently I have started using character figures from the Disney inside out film; which show a range of emotions such as; joy, sadness, fear, disgust and anger.

“When first meeting a pupil I will set the characters out in front of the pupil, explain each emotion to the pupil and ask them to choose one to describe how they are feeling today, once a pupil has chosen an ‘emotion’ it allows me to work with the child and provide emotional support and address why they have that emotion.

“The children enjoy this and seem impressed that they can relate how they feel to a Disney film.”

CPFT school nurses deliver the Healthy Child Programme in schools for children aged between five and 19 years old. The nurses are able to offer advice on health, wellbeing and lifestyle choices as well as sexual health information. They also support schools to become healthy environments for children and offer various immunisations.