Create a Patronus Charm Activity
Children ages 7 to 12 (individuals)
Basic collage materials (e.g. magazines, glue, scissors, cardstock)
Photographs of people, places or items that client is fond of.
Optional: other craft supplies (e.g. glitter, ribbons, stickers, cotton balls, beads)
Begin by asking the client if they are familiar with Harry Potter and the Patronus Charm.
The Patronus Charm is a defensive charm that involves evoking a Patronus, which is a positive energy force that serves as a protective shield. It assumes the shape of an animal, which may simply be the client’s favorite animal, or it may be a reflection of the clients’ personality. In order to cast the charm successfully, one must think of a vivid happy memory.
Start by thinking of the shape of the animal that the client would like to create as their Patronus. Offer pre-cut animal outlines to give the client ideas, if necessary. Questions could include:
What are your favorite animals? Why?
What animals are most like you?
What are your strengths?
What kinds of strengths would you like to have?
What do you think this animal does when it feels stressed, anxious, sad?
Instruct the client to create their Patronus collage. Next, inform the client that they are invited to participate in a relaxation activity. Instruct the client to close their eyes and take a few deep breaths. Tell the client to imagine themselves conjuring up a happy memory, and explore that memory using their various senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. When they are ready, instruct them to use that memory into casting the Patronus Charm (Expecto Patronum). After imagining themselves casting the Patronus Charm, the client should visualize their Patronus animal protecting them in a safe place. Tell the client we will spend just a couple of minutes feeling safe, calm, and relaxed with their Patronus animal. To end the activity, guide the client towards visualizing their Patronus animal riding off into the distance. Remind them that they can return to this happy memory and use it to conjure their Patronus animal at any time. Instruct them to say an affirmation statement such as “This is my Patronus animal and I can conjure it whenever i wish”. Slowly bring the client’s focus back to their breath and guide them through deep breathing for a few minutes, before asking the client to gradually open their eyes.
After the activity, the client should be informed that they can use their Patronus Charm to create a safe and relaxing place whenever they would like outside of therapy.
Expected Results and Troubleshooting:
It is hoped that this activity can accomplish two main goals: foster a client’s self-esteem and ability to cope with anxiety or stress. When creating the Patronus Charm, the client is encouraged to think of their strengths they would like to have. This activity encourages the client to incorporate these strengths into their self-concept. When feeling stressed, the client can think of their Patronus Charm using imagery, which involves positive happy memories and a sense of safety. Positive forms of imagery are often used in therapy to promote relaxation. Those that practice relaxation techniques can often lower their anxiety and experience more positive affect.
After the introductory session, the client should practice conjuring their Patronus animal several times during the week, regardless of if they experience stress or anxiety. This is to increase familiarity with this technique and process such that they will be prepared to use it as needed.
It is possible that the first few times a client practices conjuring up their happy memory and casting the charm, they prefer to do so by looking at their Patronus board, rather than visualizing it immediately. They should be gradually guided towards being able to conjure up the memory and Patronus via imagination, as their Patronus board may not be physically available in various settings.
Hall, T. M., Kaduson, H. G., & Schaefer, C. E. (2002). Fifteen effective play therapy techniques. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(6), 515.
Johnsen, E. L., & Lutgendorf, S. K. (2001). Contributions of imagery ability to stress and relaxation. Annals Of Behavioral Medicine: A Publication Of The Society Of Behavioral Medicine, 23(4), 273-281.
Davis, M., Eshelman, E.R., & McKay. (2008). The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook. (6th ed.). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
For reference on what the charm is/history of it:
Originally posted on the Geek Therapy Wiki, hosted on the now-defunct Wikispaces platform, as part of Dr. Patrick O’Connor’s course Geek Culture in Therapy.