The THRIVE Center for Emerging Young Adults

 

Animal Guide Cards

Animal Guide Cards are an excellent problem-solving tool for children and adults dealing with a wide array of life challenges. Each card contains an image of a "wild" animal that offers advice or warnings based on the nature of that animal. By identifying with that animal's quality, the person can imagine how that quality can become an emotional resource they might use in a particular problem situation. (Animal Guide Cards are available for sale at THRIVE.)

For example, Cara was having trouble coping with teasing on the playground. In a session using the Animal Guide Cards, she picked the Otter, who possessed the quality of "letting things slide off my back." Back on the playground, she was able to use the Otter image to identify with the emotional resource of letting the kids comments slide off her back and was thus much better able to handle the teasing.

For an impulsive child, the quality of the mouse – careful and cautious – might be used as part of a simple question-and-answer session about thinking before acting: "If you were the mouse, how would you have handled wanting to jump up in class and shout?"

Animal Guide Cards have been used as a resource for solving complex emotional and interpersonal problems that might be difficult to tackle only through the use of language, including but not limited to those challenges presented by ADHD, social anxiety issues, relationships with family and partners, and self-esteem concerns.

The combined strength of the symbolic images and the clarity of the verbal message is a powerful and effective teaching tool. Ultimately, people integrate the lessons of these Animal Guides into their own emotional repertoire, broadening their responses to the circumstances of their lives.