While using slime in therapy might seem unusual, as a Mental Health Occupational Therapist I find it to be a powerful and highly therapeutic activity.
I often make slime within sessions, particularly with my youngest clients, and am often asked about the therapeutic value – so here is a quick explanation!
Making slime helps with engagement in therapy: Coming to therapy can be a daunting and anxiety provoking experience; making slime can help a child feel more comfortable in sessions. I’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t love making slime, so it’s a great way to put children at ease and help them feel ready to come into a session.
Making slime helps to develop rapport and is a great way to talk without direct talk therapy: Activity (and slime in particular) is a great ice breaker and understanding what children enjoy is helpful in showing a child that you can relate to them. I have had far more powerful therapeutic conversations when doing “alongside” activities such as this, than traditional talk therapy approaches.
Mindfulness activity: Making and playing with slime is a great way to engage mindfully in an activity and to demonstrate mindfulness (for example focusing on the texture, temperature and smell in the experience of playing with slime).
Sensory intervention for calming the nervous system: Using slime involves our sensory experiences and kneading/hand movements, all of which can help with our nervous system. For instance this can help with releasing tension, managing over-arousal, and maintaining focus within the session.
Managing arousal, frustration tolerance and managing disappointment (self-regulation skills): Often, children are so excited to make slime that they are more aroused and this allows us the opportunity to calm and pace ourselves in order to follow the executive functioning skills required for making slime (see below).
Slime can also be a fickle activity and doesn’t always turn out the way we want it to. When something doesn’t work out it is a great opportunity to talk through our disappointment, to notice and acknowledge the feelings that come up, and take time in the session to calm and take care of any uncomfortable emotions that we experience.
Teaching and developing executive functioning skills: Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully (https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/executive-function/).
Making slime is a great way to do this – we need to plan our ingredients, identify and gather them, follow instructions, sequence how we add the ingredients, stop and problem solve any complications or errors, and evaluate what we might do the next time we make slime for the best outcome.
Children learn through play: It is well established that children engage in play naturally and that they learn and develop through play experiences. Maria Montessori coined the term “play is the work of the child”. Play that links sensorimotor, cognitive and social-emotional experiences provides an ideal setting for brain development. By bringing play into our sessions we allow for greater learning and integration of the things that are experienced within the therapy session.
And last, but certainly not least, making slime helps to make therapy fun!
We are all more likely to engage in something fully if we are enjoying it – this activity allows us to have fun whilst learning and developing many different skills together!
Keira Gill is a Mental Health Occupational Therapist (MHOT) and an Animal Assisted Therapist working with Zumi, a five year old Japanese Spitz. Keira works with all ages (including children), and has a particular interest in trauma, anxiety and depression, mood disorders, ADHD, autism, and adjusting to life transitions.
To make an appointment with Keira Gill try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129.