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Modified Talking Stick Technique


Some of the indigenous people of what is now called North America used to use a technique called the "talking stick". They had a special stick which they would place in the middle of a circle of people. When someone in the circle wanted to talk they would take the stick and talk for as long as they wanted. Everyone else would listen. When they were done talking, they would put it back in the center of the circle.

I suggest a "modified" version of this for emotionally abused teenagers. I thought of this when I was writing about the case of Alex S.

The way it would work for emotionally abused teens is that while they had the stick, no one else can talk. But the difference in the modified approach is that when someone else takes the stick, the teen can hold out his hand and request it back, even interrupting the other person who is talking, for example, the parent, the teacher, the school counselor, the psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health care worker, social worker etc.

I recommend this for a couple of reasons.

One is that when adults talk to children and teenagers, they tend to talk a lot. They also tend to talk in lectures. They often pay little regard to the feelings of the listener as they are talking.

Giving the child or the teen the power to interrupt them, would be a real way of empowering them.

People who have been emotionally abused especially need to find their voice, to be listened to, to be heard, and to feel empowered.

This would be a practical, tangible way of helping them.

S. Hein
Jan 8, 2017

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What I would further recommend is to teach the child or teen to use the following model when they interrupt someone.

When you say ____ I feel ____.

This will give immediate feedback to the other person.