Life is not easy, and just like adults, children have all kinds of life experiences that end up affecting how they think, feel, and behave.
Oftentimes when our children are walking through transitions, difficult situations, or trauma, they can struggle to verbalize how they feel and what they are thinking. So they can often act out because they don’t have the tools necessary to deal with what’s going on inside of them.
However, working with an experienced therapist who specializes in children, can help your child not only begin to verbalize their feelings and their thoughts, but it can arm your children with the tools they need to thrive in today’s world.
Additionally, if your child is dealing with: bullying, ADHD, depression, anxiety, health problems, trauma, divorce, a recent move, self-harming behavior or an eating disorder, then taking them to see a therapist is going to be critical for their long-term success and health.
It’s also important to note that getting help for your child does NOT mean you are a bad parent. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Getting a therapist for your child will only reinforce the good work you are doing at home, and is a clear example of your desire for them to thrive.
Therapy for children has a similar goal to therapy for adults: to build healthy thinking patterns, behaviors, and coping skills. With children, this is usually done through a combination of play and talk.
Depending on your child’s age, there will likely be a combination of therapy with you as the parent in the room, and without a parent in the room.
Most therapists will brief parents on how the session went when they weren’t in the room, and give them some tips and strategies to help their child in between sessions.
Playing is the most natural thing a child does, and it’s an important part of their development. Play is how your child relates to the world around them and how they relate to other people. It’s how they learn to problem solve, it’s their first form of communication, and it’s something they tend towards without anyone showing them how. This is clearly evidenced by every child who’s ever found an empty box and turned it into a fort or a castle. Those are things you don’t ever teach your child…it just comes naturally to them.
This is why it makes sense to incorporate play into your child’s therapy sessions. Since many children aren’t able to verbally explain how they are feeling and what type of thoughts are running through their heads, they will begin to relax during play. Additionally, they will begin to exhibit certain behaviors, and often begin sharing what’s on their mind…without realizing what they are doing.
Play immediately disarms children and gets them focused on what’s at hand, rather than the adult in the room with them.
During a therapy session, a trained therapist will often use play to help your child process through their emotions and develop the skills needed to cope with life.
Because playing is how they naturally learn, communicate, and develop, play during therapy can be a very successful way to “talk” to your child.
There are different types of play that you might during a therapy session with your child, including:
Drawing or Coloring: Drawing and coloring give your child an artistic outlet to channel any feelings they might be repressing deep inside. This might be done by giving them free reign to draw whatever they like, or the therapist could direct the child towards a particular image to uncover a more specific feeling.
Puppets or Dolls: Puppets and dolls might be used in imaginative play to represent people or situations that the child may be struggling with. This type of play therapy is used to help build social skills and coping behaviors as well as to give the therapist insight into what the child is perceiving in a given situation.
Blocks or Legos: Blocks and Legos can be used to help a child that is struggling with self-esteem or to help a child work through impulse control and problem solving. While play is often used to help children work through difficult feelings and emotions, it can also be used to help them build skill sets that are necessary for life.
Games: Therapy with children will often involve games that can help a child learn to follow rules and understand boundaries. Therapists may also use a game during a session to teach the child about consequences based on their actions.
No matter what type of play is used during a therapy session, a trained child therapist will set up a safe, comfortable environment for your child. Often, play will be an important part of your child’s therapy session. Please know that this is not wasted time. Most child therapists will use every second of their session, even when it looks like all they are doing is playing. If you have questions about your child’s therapy session, then be sure to speak with your child’s therapist to gain more insight into that session’s activities and focus.
At Life Insight Hinsdale, we have more than one trained child therapist on staff to help your child sort through their emotions, learn life skills, and learn the coping skills necessary to thrive. If you are in the Hinsdale area, looking for a child therapist to work with your child, then we’d love to chat. Fill out the form below and our office staff will get back to you with all the information you need to get started with one of our child therapists.