About Me

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and former school-based therapist - turned full time mama. I thrive on helping others improve their lives! This blog includes information about products that I've found helpful on my journey as a mama from from personal experience and trial and error. My hope is that it's helpful to you!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March is National Social Work Month!

Social Work friends: our job is not easy, and often thankless...but those little moments are so worth it: when you see something 'click' for a client, when you see families reunite, when you see and are part of someone overcoming an obstacle, when you connect someone to a much-needed resource, when you are THERE for someone when nobody else seems to be...you matter! You are a social worker because your heart holds so much love. If you're not told often enough, THANK YOU for all you do! You make a difference!
Image courtesy:
Being a social worker means: source unknown
Thank you social workers courtesy of alivehospice.org

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Connecting With School Staff

As I've previously mentioned, I'm a school-based therapist. This means I work for a non-profit that partners with schools, and I provide mental health services to students on-campus (I also do home visits, work with families, and collaborate with school staff).

I work at 3 different schools and I often have a full caseload, so interacting with school staff can be limited at times.

Still, I want to make my presence known, make teachers and staff aware of our services on their campus, and make connections with staff. Also, I often have to ask office staff for help with printing schedules, locating students, parents, etc, so I want to make a good impression and keep up a good working relationship with them. ;)

Last year, I bought vases that I glued pencils around, filled them with flowers, and gave them to the office staff and the school counselors at each of my schools with a little note that said, "I'm looking forward to working together to help our students BLOOM this year!" I included my name and the agency I am from.

I got the idea from Pinterest and copied the idea from this photo:
Image courtesy here

This year, I wanted to do something again, but I realized that a lot of people know my name on campus, but they don't know who I am. So this year, in order to put a face to my name, I created this:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Feelings Parking Lot

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted on here! I think I might have discovered Pinterest about a year ago and it was an easier way to organize and find ideas, so I've been pinning away over there! I highly recommend using it as a GREAT resource for ideas for work with your clients!

I used to have one board for all therapeutic intervention ideas, but I have since organized them into various boards. You can see all of them at pinterest.com/carlycollins

Speaking of Pinterest, that's where the idea came from that I'm sharing today: I saw an idea for teaching children vocabulary words, and I modified it for feelings and coping strategies (adapted from this original idea from Juggling With Kids Blog.

I called my version the Feelings and Coping Parking Lot. 
Feelings Parking Lot. Photo Credit: Carly Collins

Materials needed:
Poster board (or tape 4 pieces of paper together)
Toy cars

Here's what you do:

-If you have it, a piece of poster board would probably work best (I only had lined paper taped together, you have to be flexible and creative as a field-based clinician!)

-Create 'parking spots' large enough for toy cars to fit in by drawing them on the board

-Have the child identify various difficult emotions they experience and write them in parking spaces on one side of the 'parking lot'

-write various coping strategies you would like to teach the child or review with the child in the other parking spaces on the opposite side

-give the child a scenario that they must identify an emotion. For example, "How would you feel if someone broke your favorite toy?"

-ask the child to "park" their car in the feeling they would experience (drawing feeling faces along with the words can help with smaller children)

-if you want, you can use this time to discuss this feeling, have them make a face to show the feeling, etc

-next have the child take that same car, or another car if you have more than one, and ask them to choose a coping skill they would use to manage that feeling, or one they would like to learn, and park their car there

-once they choose one by parking, practice that coping strategy

-continue until all emotions and skills have been identified

My kiddos love this activity, and it's a creative way to practice identifying emotions and coping skills! 

I'd love to hear if you try this and how it goes!

*apologies for any typos or weird words, I typed this using my phone and hopefully caught all of the autocorrects! ;)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Teacher Appreciation

 Another Pinterest-inspired creation in honor of Valentine's Day:

As a school-based therapist who is stationed at various schools throughout the week, it is important to maintain positive alliances with school staff and teachers in order to collaborate to meet students' needs as best as possible. 

So...it never hurts to "kiss" up once in awhile :)

I found this idea on Pinterest, and unfortunately the pin doesn't link back to the original post, but here is the photo I found on Pinterest:
If anyone knows who I can credit for this adorable idea, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!

Though my version is not nearly as cute as the photo above, here is what I came up with and will be placing in the Teachers' Lounge tomorrow:
*The blocked out part says the school's name, and the part under my name says the agency I am from*Photo credit: Carly Collins, Therapeutic Interventions Blog

I found the Valentine's Day container at Ralph's for $3, and the Hershey's Hugs and Kisses totaled about $7.Photo credit: Carly Collins, Therapeutic Interventions Blog

Show the teachers you work with, your c0-workers, or your friends a little LOVE this Valentine's Day :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Home-Made PlayDoh

I got inspired by Pinterest (pinterest.com/carlycollins)and decided to get a little crafty tonight.

**Check back over the next few days, as I'll be showing you a few different ideas I found and made at home. They were all super simple!!!**

First up:

At ToysRUs, it's $5 for a 15-pack of mini PlayDohs. I found a recipe through Pinterest, which led me to Michelle DuPuis' blog, Rust & Sunshine, and thought I'd try it out and see if it ended up being cheaper to make on my own. 

Recipe, courtesy of Michelle DuPuis from Rust & Sunshine. Click above to see full instructions for how to make it:
1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. oil
1/4 cup salt
food coloring

Making the PlayDoh on the stove
I went to the DollarTree and found many of the ingredients I needed, including flour, oil, and salt ($1 each). I also found a 10-pack of small containers for my clients to keep their PlayDoh in (also $1). At my local grocery store, I purchased the cream of tartar ($5), and a 4-pack of neon food coloring ($3). Total cost: $12.

Mini containers from the Dollar Tree
I doubled the recipe, and it filled the 10 small containers to the brim. I would say I easily have enough ingredients to make at least 10 more batches (actually probably a lot more than that, I'm pretty terrible at estimating things). I think overall it might be more cost-effective than buying it at a store, and it's definitely fun to make, but if you're in a pinch, $5 for 15 containers at ToysRUS isn't a bad deal I don't think.


A lot of my clients love playing with PlayDoh and it's an excellent sensory motor activity which promotes self-regulation when clients are feeling angry, anxious, etc. I learned this from an incredible colleague, Ken Schwartzenberger, LCSW, RPT-S. You can read an article in which he discusses neurosensory play here

I thought it might be fun to include my clients in the process of making PlayDoh and having it to take home. I often want to send my clients home with a little PlayDoh so that they can have a simple self-regulation tool at home. Because I work with low-income families, I try to provide my clients with supplies rather than asking their parents to purchase things for them. 

Note: My original vision was to make the PlayDoh from scratch with my clients. However, when you make the PlayDoh, you have to heat it over a stove. Not so easy to do in a school setting, and in a home setting, I don't want to be held liable if something were to happen. 
So, I pre-made the PlayDoh, but left it plain colored, and packaged it in the containers. I will include my clients in the process of choosing and adding the color, and kneading the color into the PlayDoh (making it a sensory activity immediately, and also giving them a feeling of autonomy, self esteem, and control). 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Combining Card Games (UNO & The Ungame)

An original idea from Carly Collins, creator of Therapeutic Interventions blog:

I have an adolescent male client who is, let's just say...strong-willed, determined, and persistent (I'm being strengths-based here...). It's a bit of a challenge working with him, which in some ways I am thankful for, because it causes me to grow as a therapist and it forces me to be creative.

He LOVES to play UNO, but sometimes I am at a loss for how to change the game a bit to encourage his self-expression and work toward his goals. I had an idea today and thought I'd try it out. 

At this particular school I work at, we have not only the game UNO, but also The Ungame (pocket size, kids version). For more information on The Ungame, click here. I decided after one round of regular UNO today to shuffle The Ungame cards into UNO, with my client's permission. He reluctantly agreed, but when I told him that The Ungame cards could be used as "wild cards," meaning they could be considered any color or number, as long as he answered the question, he was enthusiastic about adding the cards to the deck. Being very competitive, he loved the idea that it might bring him to a victory sooner. 

Though he still didn't love the idea of answering questions during the game (and he made it known that he didn't), he enthusiastically did so because it was bringing him closer to beating me in the game. In the process, he was expressing himself and receiving lots of praise from me for doing so. I answered any questions I got in my stack of cards as well in order to continue building rapport and trust with him. 

Next time you're playing UNO and want to add a creative twist, try this out if you have The Ungame (or any other therapeutic card game, or you can add your own questions on slips of paper)!