1st Edition

Managing Social Anxiety in Children and Young People Practical Activities for Reducing Stress and Building Self-esteem

By Sue Jennings Copyright 2023
    174 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    174 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Managing Social Anxiety in Children and Young People introduces a new approach for working with anxious children and young people to help them develop social skills and reduce stress.

    Structured around the principles of ‘nurturing and nesting’, the book focuses on a practical approach which strays away from dependency on medicine, but relies on the stimulation of thoughts and feelings during the process of change. It shows readers how shifting perceptions of oneself and others can change a person’s attitude.The chapters feature tangible resources and exercises for developing the core processes of breathing, rhythm, sound, and physical movement in a way that can lead to a reduction of the anxiety and a new awareness of the self. The techniques are clearly laid out in developmental sequences, accompanied by illustrated worksheets and story sheets.

    This book will be of interest to teachers, teaching assistants, care workers, clinicians, therapists, parents, and all professionals involved in the support and development of children and young people.

    About the Author; Foreword by Clive Holmwood; Acknowledgement; Language: Cisgender, Trans, and Inclusivity; COVID-19 and Anxiety; Introduction; Part One: Breathing, Sleep and Mindfulness; 1: Nesting and Breathing; 2: Solutions for Sleep; 3: Sleep, Relaxation and Light; Part Two: Perceptions, Feelings and Safety; 4: How do I see My Anxiety?; 5: Facial Expressions and Feelings; 6: Where is My Safe Place?; Part Three: Energy, Mandalas and Stories; 7: Replacing Anxiety with Energy; 8: Mandalas and Mantras; 9: Masks and Flowers; Part Four: Resources; 10: Worksheets; 11: Story Sheets; Afterword by Sharon Jacksties; Appendices; Bibliography; Index


    Sue Jennings is Professor of Play (European Federation of Dramatherapists), the creator of Neuro-Dramatic-Play, and the author of 53 books. She has pioneered Dramatherapy and Play Therapy internationally. She is Senior Research Fellow at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, UK, a Distinguished Scholar at the University of the Witswatersrand, South Africa, and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Roehampton, London.

    'This is a much-needed and timely book as society moves through these uncertain times of increasing anxiety for our young people.

    Presented as a series of nurturing and safe activities which build a sense of safety and security before beginning to explore aspects of anxiety, it will be an essential tool for any adult supporting young people to feel more confident, develop a positive self-image and overcome social anxiety.

    The simple activities presented offer a "small steps" approach to beginning to understand where anxieties may be rooted and how these can be safely contained and managed through a positive focus on breathing, rhythm, sound and physical movement.

    A must for all of those working with children and young people.'

    Alison Chown, Play Therapist, Supervisor, Specialist Practitioner in Social, Emotional, and Mental Health, and author

    'In this brilliant book, Sue Jennings brings a lifetime of experience working through the creative arts and dramatherapy to the support of children and young people experiencing social anxiety; it is a much-needed practical volume for them and their therapists. She introduces guided techniques to help the physical rhythms of the body with breathing and self-regulation, moving into dynamic approaches to the exploration of feelings and places of safety, where she shows how, when young people have control over their own imaginations, they can consciously bring themselves to a safer place of healing. Working with sequenced nurture-oriented Mandala exercises and stories, the young people’s view of themselves is no longer dependent on others’ opinions of them and can lead to a changed self-perception, employing masks and little theatres to consolidate further growth – all accompanied by worksheets, home handouts, and story texts mentioned throughout the book. '

    Joanna JaanisteAdjunct Fellow, Western Sydney University; Director of the Dramatherapy Centre, Sydney; PhD (Dementia and Dramatherapy), AThR (Drama)

    'Dr Sue Jennings has yet again produced a jewel in the crown of her eternally renowned Neuro-Dramatic-Play approach, incorporating Embodiment Projection Role and Theatre of Resilience, and it is a timely resource in these post-COVID times of rising anxiety. In this latest treasure trove, Sue’s nurturing, caring way of being is evident as she guides us through a wealth of gentle activities that the facilitator can use with young people experiencing social anxiety and self-esteem issues. Her suggestion to allow the young people to chose the activities themselves along with the non-competitive, failsafe nature of the exercises ensures that they gain a sense of safety,control, independence, capability, belonging, and motivation – all important pillars of self-esteem. Sue’s unwavering passion for supporting young people, along with her openness to embrace all modalities of therapy, ensures that this book will provide many gems of knowledge, support, and opportunities for facilitators and participants alike. I can’t wait to use it.'

    Ber Carroll, Parent Mentor, Play Therapist and Sensory Attachment Intervention Practitioner; Tutor for University College Cork and for Children’s Therapy Centre Ireland; Advanced Diploma in Neuro-Dramatic-Play

    'Who says social anxiety can only be dealt with seriously? Why don't we learn how to care for both ourselves and others via creative and artistic play as a way of response? In this fragmented era saturated with crisis and chaos, this precious and elegant guidebook by Dr Sue Jennings, full of both wisdom and fun, effectively introduces you to a playfully nurturing model that takes care of social anxiety by helping people to regulate and liberate themselves in a bottom-up and step-by-step manner, starting from settling in body through understanding feelings to re-activating vitality and spirit within and beyond oneself.

    You can learn here about theories through practical techniques and practical techniques through theories.

    It is also not just a piece of therapeutic work that tackles social anxiety as a problem, but a book of inspiration, rich in insights about human connection and trust in relation to play and artistic activities from which games, metaphors and rituals for growth, healing and transformation arise.'

    Ng Shiu Hei Larry (Larry Ng), Dramatherapist, Certified Feldenkrais Method Teacher and Theatre Practitioner, Hong Kong

    'Dealing with anxiety could be a life challenge if not addressed properly and at early stages. Sue’s book is a wonderful resource, whether you are supporting or teaching someone to manage anxiety or you are dealing with it yourself! Inside you will find a comprehensible and well-guided programme that goes from breathing and relaxation, and builds up to theatre and storytelling. Filled with creativity and playfulness, it addresses anxiety in a way the brain understands best: welcoming, compassionate and nurturing.'

    Ulises Moreno-Serena, Coordinator at Teatro Aplicado CDMX, Mexico; MA (Psychology)