West Virginia University professors Ed Jacobs and Chris Schimmel co-authored an article published in October’s edition of School Counselor magazine on their work on a progressive method of creative counseling called impact therapy.

Impact therapy is an active, multisensory, creative, theory-driven approach to counseling. By employing techniques that engage multiple senses, a therapist is able to counsel the client in a way that is clear and thought-provoking. For example, Jacobs and Schimmel might use a dollar bill to demonstrate self-worth to a client, or shake up a soda bottle to get them to visualize their anger more clearly.

School Counselor magazine goes to school counselors throughout the country.

Jacobs, an associate professor and coordinator of the master’s program in the Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling, and Counseling Psychology Department, and Schimmel, assistant professor and coordinator of the department’s school counseling program, have been perfecting the method of impact therapy since its inception in the early 90s. Schimmel was Jacobs’ student at the time he began to teach impact therapy as a counseling technique and has since then worked with him to develop it.

“The brain likes novelty,” Jacobs said. “Using multisensory techniques like a shaken up soda bottle to represent anger, or a small chair to represent the little boy or little girl part of the client, helps to more fully engage the client.”

In the article, Jacobs and Schimmel encourage school counselors, who work with students on a time constraint, to utilize impact therapy. They note that using these methods with difficult students could mean the difference between not getting through to them and helping them work through their issues in a limited period of time. They provide suggestions on the use of props, as well as writing, to create specific imagery that makes an impact.

“We are pleased that our work is now reaching school counselors throughout the country,” said Jacobs and Schimmel, “because impact therapy is such a useful approach for those counseling school-aged kids.”



CONTACT: Christie Zachary, WVU College of Education and Human Services
304.293.0224; Christie.Zachary@mail.wvu.edu

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