Catalyst therapy is a three-stage method of therapy. In the initial communication the child and therapist draw one or more pictures together. Verbal communication is minimal.
The therapist says, “We are going to draw a picture. Watch.” The therapist then draws a tree, a path, or some other environmental feature. The therapist then says, “Now you draw.”
This dual graphic communication continues until the session terminates.As the therapeutic process develops, the verbal communication changes and becomes more diversified. However, children in Catalyst Therapy are reluctant communicators, so it is important to proceed slowly to prevent the child from becoming inaccessible again.
If the child is responding with some autonomy, the therapist then moves on to the second stage by introducing an animal with humanlike characteristics. Animals such as a mouse or a rabbit are usually unthreatening and can become easy vehicles for such exploration as anger, sexuality, etc. The child may then be ready to focus on a more aggressive type of animal, such as a tiger.The graphic communication thus offers a broader channel to express aggression safely, which is frequently necessary for reluctant communicators. When communicating through animals appears to be developing without too much anxiety,the therapist then initiates the third stage by introducing the use of communication through thoughts and through words. Balloon-shaped drawings are placed above the animals, in a manner similar to the balloon shapes used in cartoons.
However, there are broken line balloons for thoughts and dreams and solid-lined balloon shapes for words.This is both a recognition of the thought process of children and an expanded way for the child to respond. Usually the child will initiate more direct communication in this stage of graphic/language communication by saying, “I want to talk,” or expressing in different words a wish to be a more direct communicator.
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