Wild animals



Captivity and freedom

The natural world

Potential benefits

Engaging with character through projection on to animal

Developing imagination and story-making

Exploration of personal freedom and choice-making

Resources needed

Pictures or cards of wild animals in their natural environment

Songs such as “The Lion sleeps tonight” or “Run rabbit run”


  1. Review other animal work from earlier sessions, and introduce this theme either through a relevant song or by playing the game of ‘if you could be an animal what would you be and why?’
  2. Introduce the animal cards and invite people to engage with them, whilst also taking cues from any responses to the opening song or game
  3. Suggest that each person focuses on one chosen animal
  4. Taking each one in turn, encourage a sharing of what is noticed on the card – where is that animal, what time of day/season of the year is it, what are they doing
  5. Support the development of the stories, and when completed, retell the story together and ask the person to give the story a title
  6. Write down the completed stories and photograph the pictures


Add to the book the pictures with the stories, engaging the group to stick in their own pictures if they wish. These can be added to at a later stage if anything more emerges over the following weeks.

Further sessions

Exploration on this theme might lead to sharing other creative expressions on wild animals, such as in poetry (The Tyger by William Blake, The Eagle by Alfred Tennyson) or art images (The Monarch of the Glen by Edwin Landseer, Surprised! By Henri Rousseau).

This theme could also lead on to consideration around wild animals in captivity, such as in zoos or in their past use as performers in a circus. The idea of captivity and freedom can be gently explored.

The client’s response

Creating a story, perhaps for the first time in many years, can give a huge sense of achievement to a person, and delight at revisiting it in the book. Self-confidence and self-esteem grow, and a sense of self-worth from the responses of fellow group members and therapists. There is also, as in the little story below, the possibility of containment through story for holding difficult material….(‘I wonder if it will survive the winter’).

Fox image courtesy of ©

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