Creativity to combat anxiety, depression & isolation in young people

Meditation & wellness tools for #confidenthearts

I grew up doodling! I would doodle in the columns of my school books and on anything I could find. I would process my thoughts and emotions about my first boyfriends, my first kiss, friends I fell out with, teachers who upset me, my stress and anxiety about exams and what I might be when I finish school! Any guesses what that was? I always wanted to be a marine biologist. I was in love with the sea and still am. There is something calming about the sea and when I would sit on the shoreline it would feel as though I was home. I was in a safe place!

As a child I experienced a traumatic event which changed how my life would be. I became anxious, scared to share my voice, afraid to be myself and would hide behind my tough outside mask. The mask that I showed to the world. I was sent to talk to many counsellors, psychologists and teachers who wanted to help but I couldn’t find the words to express my feelings. So instead I would draw these and the mess that was in my mind would end up on paper as doodles. Imagine if someone had engaged with me from a creative perspective? Imagine if someone had said, “Tanja I can see that you love to draw, I would like to draw with you”. Instead I was asked to explain with words that I didn’t think had been invented yet!

This is what doodling, drawing and creative expression does. It builds a bridge for young people to share their heart story without the need for words. Its a showcase of the inside world on the outside!

“CBT Doodling for kids” by Tanja Sharpe

Now as a therapist, I work creatively with young people and I teach the adults who support them how to facilitate this through exercises that don’t need words!

In my first book for kids, titled “CBT Doodling For Kids”, I created worksheets which encourage creative expression through doodling, drawing and art. As young people create they make sense of what they feel and think and this in turn boosts happy chemicals. These chemicals help to promote concentration, focus and relaxation. It boosts confidence, intuition and improves self-esteem.

In CBT Doodling for kids, I created characters from my many years of working with young people. Each of these characters have a story which guides the young person to explore an emotional element of themselves. They pick a character and read the story and then they doodle their thoughts, mind squiggles, feelings, emotions and colours freely in any way that feels good for them. This really helps them to have a voice and to let go of all of those layers which have been built up inside! Once they have created their doodles then its a great time to explore these together. Asking open ended questions like “I like your colours, what do they mean for you?” or “Wow that feels like a lot of heavy feelings to hold inside, where do all of those feelings live inside of you”? You are creating a safe space to explore what young people have swirling around inside!

There are also great benefits to introducing this in schools! Increased emotional resilience, more classroom compassion, kindness to others, a reduction in perfectionism, less stress, reduced anxiety and better social skills. As a result of a study carried out by Jackie Andrade, she shared that “doodling helped participants remember 29 per cent more information than those who did not doodle”. This study was titled ‘What does doodling do’ (2009) and was published by John Wiley & Sons.

“CBT Doodling for Kids” – Meet Em, a nature loving character from the book

I have been sharing these exercises and characters with young people in my private practice for years and I now train teachers, social workers, counsellors, parents and anyone who works with kids to inspire and empower kids through creative wellbeing! I have developed an 8 session programme which I have taught to hundreds of coaches worldwide and we aim to bring this programme to schools and therapy rooms across the UK.

I am guessing you have found your way to us through our valued partnership with Jessica Kingsley Publishers and I would love to share with you how you can join a growing movement of people who are adopting a creative approach to helping young people to express themselves creatively. Empowering and inspiring young people to be more confident, growing kindness and compassion for themselves and others.

More and more young people are struggling with their mental health and we are now seeing young people at age 4 needing counselling and support as a result of anxiety, stress and depression. As a result, schools, families, siblings and communities are struggling to find ways to improve the resilience and mental health of the young people that they care for. There is a huge need to boost wellbeing through creative solutions in a way that is fun, engaging and inspiring to young people and this is where we come in!

Growing #confidenthearts

My name is Tanja and I am the founder and director of Confident Hearts. I founded this organisation three years ago as a promise to the world that I would make a difference in the lives of young people!

We are a family run project

In 2012, my whole life changed when my son became depressed and anxious as a result of years of bullying and he wanted to end his life. He struggled to find the words to explain how he was feeling and we couldn’t find the right support to help him to begin to build his confidence. I spent many nights awake and feeling hopeless. I didn’t know how I was going to support him, so I quit my job and re-trained as a counsellor. I was desperate to be able to help him to see just how amazing and wonderful he is. Once qualified I worked with hundreds of young people on a 1:1 basis and in group therapy sessions. I found that offering creativity as a bridge to how we feel inside and how we express this on the outside was such a powerful tool. I quickly found that the combination of therapeutic coaching, NLP, CBT & Creative Mindfulness was incredibly powerful and I wanted to be able to have a greater impact globally on the young people I wasn’t able to reach in 1:1 work. So in 2017, I set up Confident Hearts with a mission to train as many people as I can to be able to inspire and empower young minds globally to be their most confident selves. Over the last three years, I have grown this programme through practice and seeing the outcomes of the work that our 100+ global coaches are achieving! We are now a team of three at Confident Hearts with over 50 years combined experience within the wellness and mental health world. We are a family run business and are passionate about what we do! Lives really are changing and I am so excited to offer this to you too!

Our training is delivered to you via our professional course platform. We are the most cost effective training solution available today and training with us offers you:

  • A done for your kit including 8 Key sessions around: Focus, Moods & Emotions, Kindness, Gratitude, Intention & Goal Setting, Creating a Calm Place, Anxiety, My Awesome Self & Resilience “Bouncebackability”
  • You learn through a mix of live coaching + self directed study & support to complete a reflection journal for self-development and guidance around growing your own daily Mindfulness practice. We believe in helping you to walk your talk and to embody wellbeing and mindfulness, so we spend some time focusing on you too
  • 8 Key Mindfulness, CBT & Wellbeing fusion lessons with done for you Powerpoints, PDF guide book, evaluation sheets, creative kit list and bonus materials
  • A co-coaching element where we encourage you to work with someone else to deepen your knowledge and develop your Mindful skills
  • Marketing coaching to help get you started
  • On completion you are invited to join the CMA as a member and this gives you access to insurance as a Creative Youth Wellbeing & Mindfulness Coach

Would you like to find out more? Click here to see the full programme details!