Watch Out for the T-Rex!!!

Today one of our young patients came in with a friend and the two of them spent the morning using the relaxation mats in our clinic to build an elaborate house complete with passageways, doors and a roof. For the patient, having his own space in the house that had a roof over it was particularly important. When the roof was on his house he didn’t want anyone to be able to see him. His mom and I worked to fulfill his need only to find moments later a “strong wind” had come through and knocked the house down! The strong wind quickly developed into a T-Rex that was determined to destroy everything in its path. The two kids giggled and jumped up and down in delight as they tumbled over the large mats. Once the T-Rex was gone we worked to rebuild the house until… (you guessed it!) another T-Rex came along to knock the whole thing down again!


The theme of creation and destruction is one that we sometimes see with kids. As adults, we usually view creation as a linear process- we come up with an idea, work to create it and hope that in the process and after it is completed that it doesn’t fall apart. For some kids however, the creation process can be less linear and more circular with equal joy and importance on the creation as well as the destruction of the artwork. At times destroying something can be far more therapeutic than making it!

In this patient’s case, the creation of a place where he could hide and not be seen by anyone made him feel safe and protected, while the later destruction of the house allowed him to feel more in control and powerful. The process seemed to validate both of these feelings and help relieve his anxiety about the medical care he received today.

The Art of War

Going through a long term medical treatment can at times feel like a battle. Not only the disease itself, but also the ups and downs of treatment, the medicines, and the blood draws, can feel like an assault to the person going through treatment. For children this can be difficult to process, but art can allow them to make sense of this experience. For some patients, the medical experience finds its way into play and artwork in the form of battles, swords and protective armor.

Recently, a patient created a submarine equipped with toothpick guns and protective force fields made from pipe cleaners and paper clips. Another patient made a protective shield using mosaic tiles and foam core. Both works of art express the patient’s need for protection, feelings of vulnerability and the experience of medical treatment as a battle.