3 Wishes from the Genie

Target Population: Children ages 6 and up

Materials:
  • Relaxation/Guided Visualization Exercise
  • Optional:
    • White paper
    • Drawing materials of the client’s choosing (colored pencils, crayons, markers, pastels, charcoal, etc.)

Instructions:
  • Introduction: In the movie Aladdin, the Genie provides Aladdin with 3 wishes. He is allowed to have anything that he wants with the exception of more wishes. If you were Aladdin, what would your wishes be?
  • Have your clients go through a guided visualization, in which they are able to imagine in detail their wishes coming true.
  • The following visualization in conjunction with a relaxation technique is provided as an example:
    • To go to your safe place, get in a comfortable position and breathe slowly and deeply (diaphragmatic breathing)... Close your eyes...Walk slowly to a quite place in your mind...Your place can be inside or outside. It just needs to be peaceful and safe...Picture yourself unloading your anxieties, your worries...Notice the view in the distance. What do you see?...What do you smell?... What do you hear?...Notice what is before you... Reach out and touch it...How does it feel?...Smell it...Hear it...Make the temperature comfortable...Be safe here…

      As you enjoy this safe and comfortable space, imagine that you stumble upon a magic lamp...As you rub the lamp, a genie appears...He tells you that you have three wishes and that you can have anything you like with the exception of more wishes...Think of your 3 wishes. What would they be?...Now imagine each one of these wishes coming true...What would this look like? What do you hear, smell, and feel?...Does this involve others? If so, imagine their presence...How does it feel to have your wishes come true?...

      Spend some time enjoying your special place, as your wishes come true...This is your place and nothing can harm you here...If danger is here, expel it...Memorize this place’s smells, tastes, sights, and sounds...You can come back here and relax here whenever you want...Leave by the same path or entrance...Notice the ground, touch things near you...Look far away and appreciate the view...Remind yourself that this special place you create can be entered whenever you wish. Say an affirmation such as “I can relax here” or “This is my special place. I can come here whenever I wish.”

      (adapted from Davis, Eshelman, & McKay, 2008)
  • Optional: Have your clients draw images of their wishes coming true after the activity to keep. These images can serve as a visual reminder of hope for the future, whenever they might be feeling hopeless. This technique is also useful for clients who have difficulties in discussing their wishes verbally; the drawings could be used as a starting point to later ask questions and generate discussion around their wishes in a less threatening fashion.
  • Process Questions/Topics:
    • What were your wishes?
    • What did it feel like to have your wishes come true?
    • How do you think you might be able to attain these wishes in your life?
    • You can discuss with your clients the difference between things that they might have control over and those that they do not. Once those areas are distinguished, you can discuss how to make their wishes come true by altering things that are in their control. Using a circle of control may be helpful in this activity (drawing a circle and placing things within one’s control inside of the circle and those that are not outside the circle).

Rationale, Expected Results, and Troubleshooting:

This activity is an adaptation of the “Miracle Question” technique that is commonly used in solution-focused brief therapy. The miracle question is meant to challenge clients to think about what their lives would look like without the problem, by imagining details that would create these changes. There are three other aspects to exploring the miracle question: creating an imagined experience of what their lives would look like without the problem; helping clients recognize that there may be exceptions to their current situation and that the problem may not always be around; and helping the client take an overall positive approach.

This activity is based on the “Miracle Questions,” as it provides an experience of what their lives would look like if they were granted their wishes or a miracle. It is expected that by envisioning their wishes come true, this might instill hope for the future. The goal is to reawaken the excitement of a hopeful future and moving the client towards a realm of possibility. This also allows the clinician to assess certain deficits or conflicts in the client’s life. With this information, the clinician can then process the emotions surrounding these deficits or conflicts but also discuss ways in which they might be able to overcome these difficulties and move towards obtaining their wishes. This activity also promotes the use of imagination, fantasy, and metaphor.

A potential troubleshooting with this activity might be that once an individual envisions his/her wishes coming true, he/she might become sad or hopeless, as he/she might believe this will never actually happen. It is important to process these emotions and discuss why they might feel that these wishes are impossible to attain. It may then be helpful to discuss the circle of control, finding ways to in some fashion attain these wishes and to instill hope.

Depending on the client, it is possible that this activity may be better accomplished over multiple sessions in order not to rush the activity. In order to do this, the visualization exercise for the first session may focus solely on exploration of the first wish, and the client and therapist will then return to the exercise in subsequent sessions to explore the remaining wishes. This might allow for a thorough exploration of each wish. It will also allow more time for the client and therapist to process and discuss each of these wishes.

In regards to the optional drawing component, another potential troubleshooting issue might involve clients feeling that they are not artistic enough to recreate the fulfillment of their wishes. The clinician would then discuss how the objective of the project is for the client to express him/herself and to create a reminder of these positive events--not necessarily to create a masterpiece.

References:

Davis, M., Eshelman, E. R., & McKay, M. (2008). The relaxation and stress reduction workbook. New Harbinger Publications.

Corrigan, M., & Moore, J. (2011). Listening to children's wishes and feelings course handbook. London: British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).

Gabbard, G. O. (2010). Use of Dreams and Fantasies in Dynamic Psychotherapy. Long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy: A basic text. American Psychiatric Pub.

Lethem, J. (2002). Brief solution focused therapy. Child And Adolescent Mental Health, 7(4), 189-192. doi:10.1111/1475-3588.00033

M.Stith, S., Miller, M. S., Boyle, J., Swinton, J., Ratcliffe, G., & McCollum, E. (2012). Making a Difference in Making Miracles: Common Roadblocks to Miracle Question Effectiveness. Journal Of Marital & Family Therapy, 38(2), 380-393.

Strong, T. R. (2009). Constructing a Conversational “Miracle”: Examining the “Miracle Question” as It Is Used in Therapeutic Dialogue. Journal Of Constructivist Psychology, 22(4), 328-353.

Summers, F. (2013). The future as intrinsic to the psychoanalytic process. Depression: The Collapsed Self. Relinquishing Bad Objects. Self creation: Psychoanalytic therapy and the art of the possible. Routledge.