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Mexico psychological cartoon characters help children overcome trauma

来源: Xinhua 作者: 2014-10-17 09:14:41

  Therapy through dance is something that can definitely help many, but when it comes to persuading children who have been physically or mentally abused, to talk about their experiences, it can be a delicate task.

  Many children and teenagers are reluctant to speak to strangers, even those with specialist training. Hoping to break the impasse and to help children recover, a decade ago a Mexican psychologist devised a cartoon character who engages with traumatised children to help them open up.

  "Hello, is there any child over there who wants to talk to me? My name is Antennas and I come from a planet called Antenopolis," said the cartoon charactor.

  The animation may look dated, but Antennas is a skilled child therapist, who has helped over 10,000 children in ten years.

  It was the brain child of Julia Borbolla, an experienced child therapist, who was inspired by a drawing by her son in the late 1990s. After five years of using the interactive cartoon to communicate with young clients, she established the "Antennas for the Children Foundation" in 2005 to further develop its potential.

  "The first time I used this experiment with a child, the cartoon asked her who she was living with. She says, with my dad, my mum, my brother and the maid. Antennas asked: what is a 'maid'? 'The one who cleans the house and when your parents aren't at home, she hits you', answered the girl. I realised then that the child was going to give the straight definition of what she was living," said Borbolla.

  The original aim of the project was to offer companionship to sick children but Borbolla realized that some of them didn't talk about their illness but about family violence or abuse.

  In 2012 Borbolla introduced the tool to legal authorities in Mexico, who have since gone on to use it in cases involving child witnesses.

  Borbolla says that by expressing their feelings children can come to terms with them and help end the cycle of violence that often stems from childhood abuse.

  "Then we realize that if a child explains his feelings and explains what is happening to him, the cartoon can help him to handle those feelings and not to hold on to them while he grows up. We had discovered the genesis of crime, that's it," said Borbolla.

  Recently Borbolla was in discussions with the US ambassador to Mexico about its possible applications. The foundation says many organizations around the world, including in Chile, Argentina, the United Kingdom and China have requested more information about the program, in hopes of maybe applying them in their own countries.


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