Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Seeking Help from Scaredy Squirrel

With a recent student case, I found few school counseling resources out there that had to to with students who are exhibiting a fear of germs (pathologically referred to as Mysophobia). There are lots of available educational materials and lessons for working with children who have little concept of germ prevention (try Pinterest), but few for germaphobe intervention. Now we know that the aforementioned fear can often be a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, in this specific case, the fear of germs was the sole presenting symptom that was severely affecting the student's ability to learn and function in the classroom. A true-blue sign for intervention by the School Counselor!

While searching for resources, I came across a number of theory-based techniques, such as Immersion Therapy and Cognitive Restructuring. However, for a young student with whom I have not yet established solid rapport, I was looking to start with a more comfortable, indirect approach. Turning to my love of bibliotherapy, I soon encountered Scaredy Squirrel. Not only are the books visually pleasing and fun to read with students, but the website also provides an abundance of additional resources including e-books in case you aren't able to secure hard copies!

In a nut-shell (no pun intended), Scaredy Squirrel is a germaphobic squirrel who goes on various adventures, but takes every precaution to ensure that he does not have to face his fear of germs, crowds, etc. In each story, Scaredy realizes that he is missing out on the true experience of things by hiding behind his "emergency kit" that is uniquely prepared for each adventure.  I found that reading one of the Scaredy Squirrel books together was a great lead-in to discuss if the student ever felt a similar way. There are a variety of great Scaredy Squirrel books available, including: Scaredy Squirrel At the Beach, Goes Camping, Makes A Friend, At Night, and Has A Birthday Party. There are even titles that include Scaredy Squirrel preparing for Halloween and Christmas!

For those of you who haven't checked out Scaredy Squirrel yet, I encourage you to do so! I am also continuously looking for more ideas/insight for working with students who are very germ-conscious!

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