Child therapy is used to help children work through their big emotions when faced with difficult situations. As a therapist, I am there to guide this process, encourage reflectiveness about their emotions, and challenge their thoughts and ideas by using different perspectives. While similar in ways to how we work with adults, therapy with children often looks different due to children needing connection and interaction to express themselves appropriately. Often this is done through playing, artwork, role-playing scenarios, and games as talking may take a back seat in child therapy. While talking may not be the main method of child therapy, communication and understanding are still emphasized.
Children communicate through many different methods of play, most of which are utilized in my sessions depending on developmental age, ability, and enjoyment. I like to use playing as a method of self-expression for younger children and as a way to take the pressure off of older children in therapy. I have found that by utilizing this method, children feel more comfortable opening up and talking about what is going on. Likewise, observing the play can help me to view the world through their eyes. I will utilize figurines to help kiddos be able to display their interpersonal relationships, thoughts, and feelings associated with these relationships. While I use playing to encourage communication, therapy does involve a lot of teaching and practicing different techniques. In child therapy, your kiddo will likely learn about emotional regulation, coping skills, anger management techniques, grounding, mindfulness, positive self-talk, considering other’s perspectives, and practice bringing a greater awareness to themselves and their thoughts and feelings. My hope is always that a child feels better understood, validated, encouraged, and supported throughout this process.
Child therapy has the most long-term efficacy when we incorporate parents and caregivers to the treatment. Family involvement is important because it helps you to learn the skills your child is learning in therapy and practice implementing these changes into your daily lives. As a therapist, I am in your child’s life temporarily and child therapy sometimes involves building or rebuilding a connection between you and your child. I may also use parent/caregiver involvement to get a better picture of the child’s behaviors and their lives. Children may struggle with telling stories about what has actually happened or view their reality differently and I may need parent context to give me a better picture. Parent involvement may look different depending on the family and your willingness and ability to be involved. While I highly encourage family involvement in each session I understand that circumstances may play a part in allowing a family member to not be as involved as they hoped. With that being said, I will try to connect with a parent or guardian for at least 5 - 15 minutes at the end of every session. I also will offer parent training or family therapy on a need based basis.