When Worry Came to Visit


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This resource is designed primarily for use with children between the ages of 6 and 11 years old who experience significant difficulties with anxiety. It assists child care professionals to externalise the child’s anxiety making it more possible for the child to make changes with the help and support of their family members and others.

This practical resource can be used when working individually with a child but ideally will involve all or some family members.

When Worry Came to Visit consists of:

  • A therapeutic story that externalises anxiety
  • Worksheets to assist the therapist to guide the child through the process of externalising the anxiety
  • A board game which can assist with both assessment and treatment.

This can be played either by the worker and child, or by family members.

Age Range: 6 to 11

The pack utilises a technique from Narrative Therapy whereby the anxiety is externalised. This separates the person from the difficulty – i.e. not an anxious child, but rather a child whom anxiety has come to visit. Rather than having an intrinsic difficulty that the child is powerless to change, externalisation sets the problem outside them. The re-positioning of the difficulty as separate from the child and the playful, but respectful, therapeutic approach used, creates space between the child and their difficulty. In this space the child can begin to bring his or her resources to bear, and make changes, most effectively with the help and support of others. The therapeutic story is central to the pack as it takes the main character, Charlie, through the process of externalising his anxiety (which is represented by Spiky Ball). The story is designed to be sufficiently brief to be read regularly during therapy sessions. The worksheets follow on from this and are designed to aid the therapist to guide the child they are working with through the process of externalising their anxiety. As part of this the therapist may actively recruit a team (members chosen by the child) of family and friends to assist the child in their endeavours to get their life back from anxiety. The board game is designed to be able to be played by only the therapist and child (if individual work is being undertaken), or by family members in a family session. The information arising will aid assessment by e.g. providing information regarding the impact of the anxiety on the family system and how family members / system respond to this. The game is also therapeutic as the questions asked will prompt family members to begin to think differently and therefore act differently.

The components are: an illustrated therapeutic story; 15 illustrated worksheets, a letter template for therapists to use when inviting family members and friends to join the child’s team and an illustrated certificate to be awarded to the child at the end of the therapy; and a board game with separate questions for the child, siblings, parents and therapist. Neutral warm up questions are also included to ease family members in and out of the game. In addition the game includes true / false questions to educate the child and family about anxiety. Guidance for professionals to explain the theoretical background to the pack and how to use the component parts.