Home of the Bear Cards

Stories by Therapists
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  • Mixed emotions

    Mixed emotions

    Janice Dooley, Social Worker/Counsellor, Maryborough, Victoria

    A 42 year old female client was suffering from anxiety, stress and grief following the breakdown of a long term relationship. During our first session she found it difficult to express how she felt, using the term “all mixed up inside”.
    I asked her to look through The Bear Cards set and see if she could identify with any of the cards.
    She put aside 6 cards which she described as ‘miserable’, ‘all alone’, ‘hurting inside’, ‘scared’, ‘confused’ and ‘numb’.
    Without prompting, she then went through her choices, one by one, and talked about when those particular feelings arose.
    I recorded the numbers of the chosen cards for future comparison.

  • Acting out the feelings

    Acting out the feelings

    Judi Bilkey, Clinical Psychologist, Echuca, Victoria

    ‘Sue’ is an 18 year old aboriginal girl who is not able to express herself very easily. She is semi-literate and very quiet. I have known her off and on for 5 years or so. She was the victim of crime.
    I have struggled with her expressing her emotions over the time I have known her and she commonly has a very flat affect.
    When I got The Bear Cards I spent a session with her, looking at them and discussing her emotions.
    At first she would look at the cards and tell me what she thought they expressed. Then I asked her to pick out the cards that she thought represented her moods or emotions. She picked 4 or 5 cards.
    Then I asked her which cards represented how she wanted to feel and she again picked 4 or 5. This was all pretty predictable.
    We kept playing with the cards because she was pretty engaged in the bears. When she got to a card she couldn’t name the emotion for I asked her to make the same face and pose as the card and see if that would help her.
    She hesitated at first and, although she only did this a few times, she was able to understand the emotion by imitating the bears facial expression and pose.
    I realised then that when she first went through the cards, she did the poses with her hands and shoulders often as a means to understand them.

  • Similar or different

    Similar or different

    Deirdre Middlehurst, Clinical Psychologist, Toowoomba, Queensland

    Place all the cards pictures up and ask the person (child) to pick a card to describe how they felt when ………………… happened.
    Many situations can be identified and the child responds by choosing an appropriate card. If the emotion is similar to another one, the therapist can ask how they’re similar or how they’re different.
    I used this approach with Asperger children.

  • Moved by The Bear Cards

    Moved by The Bear Cards

    Judi Bilkey, Counselling Psychologist, Echuca, Victoria

    ‘Kath’ is a 45 year old single woman who is suffering from depression. She is a professional who runs her own business. I can’t remember why I gave her The Bear Cards but it was probably because she said she felt ‘numb’ or ‘nothing’.
    She looked at me a bit strange when I handed her the cards and asked her to look through them to identify her emotions. She sat quietly and looked through the pack.
    As she got about a quarter of the way she slowed down and started taking cards out and placing them next to her. At one point she started to cry and said “These are amazing, you just look at them and they bring on an emotion”.
    She was really moved by the cards and how they made her feel.

  • One of the Sad Bears

    One of the Sad Bears

    Annette Clemments, Social Worker, Bendigo, Victoria

    I was working with a boy of about 10 who had a lot of trouble talking about feelings. He was happy to discuss his interests, sport, friends and family but when it came to the worries he carried inside his head he clammed up.
    In a session with his mother present this boy didn’t have much to say. He lay on the floor and listened as his mum described the family’s financial problems and the pressure on her as a result of his behaviour. She couldn’t work as he was refusing to go to school and wasn’t able to leave his mother’s side without an emotional outburst.
    At the end of the session I put a range of The Bear Cards in front of him. I acknowledged how hard it must have been to listen to what his mum had to say and suggested he pick a card to express how the session had been for him. He indicated one of the sad bears.
    That was the first time he acknowledged that he had difficult feelings of any kind.

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