Casey’s Greatness Sticks Instructions
A therapeutic tool to empower, celebrate, and honor the greatness within
Tammi Van Hollander, LCSW, RPT-S
As a play therapist and international trainer, I use Greatness Sticks in my private practice, during my presentations, and with family members. Since Greatness Sticks was introduced, they are being used all over the world in classrooms, supervision, organizations, and other events to celebrate each other. Typically, negative qualities come to mind more easily than positive ones when thinking about ourselves, resulting in low self-esteem, adaptability, and motivation.
There are many ways to use Greatness Sticks. Here are a few suggestions.
With a child and family member in a therapeutic setting: Set up the greatness sticks in front of child and parent/caregiver. Ask them to pick a stick and explain how their child possesses this quality. A parent may ask “Are there any negative qualities?” Can we talk about the tantrums, rudeness and lack of respect?” The reply is “There are no negative qualities in this activity. It is about the strengths your child has, not the weaknesses." They can then pick an image from the sandtray collection that represents them or draw a picture and place it in the sand tray or on the table. For those who do not have sand, the client can draw a picture depicting how this activity made them feel and place the Greatness Sticks around it. Once the sticks are selected and the child’s greatness is celebrated, have them write the greatness words on a popsicle stick to take home with them. The therapist may ask the child “Are there any greatness qualities you would like to have more of or any qualities you would like your parent/teacher/caregiver to have more of?” Many may say “I wish my parent was more PLAYFUL or more PATIENT?”
Individuals: I take out the sticks and ask them to pick the qualities they possess. One teen was really stuck and didn’t think she possessed any of these qualities, so she asked for her mother to come in. Her mother showed her that she had all of these qualities and more. Sometimes it is difficult for people to acknowledge these qualities in themselves, so it has a huge impact when a parent, sibling , teacher, or clinician can help them see their true greatness by showing the child the sticks selected for them in the sand or on the table. To expand on this, I then ask them to pick the qualities that they see in their parents and siblings. Having children, teens, and adults pick positive attributes that they see in their siblings can be challenging, but it is rewarding to see this game unfold and these relationships strengthened. As a way of processing this activity, less is more. I may say, “Wow, how do you feel when you look at all these amazing qualities that you and your family have?” The answer is always one of amazement, gratification, and contentment. One eight year old said “I feel fantastic!.” Another child welled up with tears and said “I had no idea I had so much greatness.” Greatness Sticks are also great to use for couples.
With groups: family session, group work, or workshop: If I am using Greatness Sticks in a workshop or a classroom, I split people up into groups of three or four, and each group randomly picks two Greatness Sticks. They are then asked, “When you think of this greatness quality, who does it remind you of? Share about how this person possesses this trait.” Then, each group member picks another stick and say how they possess this quality and why it is an important one to have. This is a powerful activity because it helps the participants see beauty in themselves and others. The activity also creates an opportunity to learn more about other people, making it a great ice breaker activity among groups/friends/families or a beneficial tool during staff training and supervision.
Classroom: There are forty Greatness Sticks included in the set. Teachers can implement this activity at any time of the day to celebrate the greatness of their students by placing the sticks on each child’s desk. The students can also make their own sticks to take home and show their families. Greatness Sticks are a fun activity for guidance counselors and principals too. Students often get sent out of the classroom for doing something wrong. Imagine a school where children get sent out of the classroom to receive recognition for what they are doing right!
The children’s book “Casey’s Greatness Wings: Teaching Mindfulness, Connection, and Courage to Children” is a beautiful compliment to this activity. The book is a multi-sensory story that is told on the child's back, inspiring greatness, self love, compassion, and resilience .https://www.mainlineplaytherapy.com/children-s-book
Here are some more greatness words to add to your sticks. The more you do this activity, the more greatness words you will want to add. There are so many greatness qualities that we forget to acknowledge.
Make all of these words part of your daily vocabulary for yourself and for others.
How will you use your Greatness Sticks? Please share your feedback and
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