AMHERST COUNTY, Va. – Erin Winters says many people don’t know what it’s like to receive therapy — and it’s time to erase the stigma.
“It’s such a big deal to normalize emotions and mental health and make that a normal, not-shameful thing,” said winters.
Winters is a licensed therapist, a mother of two boys and an author.
Her latest children’s book is called ‘When a Donut Goes to Therapy’ and stars a panicky pastry in a waiting room.
“We can see him meeting the therapist, we can see what kind of activities they do and how it works and why he seems to start to feel better.”
He starts to feel better thanks to the type of therapy.
Winters says ‘play therapy’ is scientifically proven to help kids express their emotions.
“If they’re going ‘to talk,’ it’s a lot more intimidating; where if you’re going to play, it’s a lot more non-threatening and they’ll open up more,” said Winters.
She says two in 10 children are diagnosed with a mental health illness.
But the book also helps parents to understand.
“It’s easy for parents to just say, ‘well, they just played? What a useless waste of my time and money,” said Winters.
The book’s not on the shelves yet. Winters launched a Kickstarter campaign, an online platform where preorders fund the project. The goal is $7,000 and, if surpassed, she expects to have books published by December. The money helps print the story on high-quality pages with a company who has worked with Disney and Penguin.
This would be Winters’ third children’s book. She published two stories successfully through Kickstarter, including another therapeutic book with interactive question at the end.
“There’s a feelings chart and then therapeutic questions that you can ask to continue the conversation. I have a friend that reads it to her kids every night and uses it to go over the emotions of the day,” said Winters.
She plans on putting the chart and questions at the end of ‘When a Donut Goes to Therapy.’
Winters says now, coming out of the pandemic, is the time to normalize therapy.
“The stress went up a ton, and so if the parents don’t know how to regulate their emotions, it’s going to be so hard on the kids; and they’re going to note that, too.”
You can also donate books. Winters is partnering with Operation First Response to give books to military families. Her husband, George, serves in the Army National Guard; and the Winters family want to help address trauma in the military.
You can also donate books to Virginia’s Department of Social Services. Winters says it’s a cause close to her heart, as more than 400,000 children are in the foster care system.