VanFleet, R., Sywulak, A. E., Sniscak, C. C. & Guerney, L. F. (2010).Child-centered play therapy. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Child therapy is a type of psychotherapy that is specifically designed for children. This therapy approach may consist of individual, family and/or group therapy. Your child’s treatment plan will depend on the severity of his/her issues. As the parent, you will take an active role in your child’s treatment. Your therapist teaches you how to effectively manage your child’s psychological issues and behavioral problems
Depending on the type of child therapist you chose, he/she may have a unique approach to treatment (such as: play therapy, music therapy, art therapy, etc.). Your therapist may utilize a combination of traditional and non-traditional psychological theories, approach and techniques during treatment. The main task of your child therapist is to find an approach that works for your child.
Signs That Your Child Needs Therapy
Your child may exhibit certain signs that he/she needs professional help. If your child exhibits behavioral issues that appear to be escalating in severity or your child appears to struggle at school, then it may be time to seek treatment for your child. Behavioral problems, inconsistent mood fluctuations, and/or a change in personality are common signs that your child is struggling with psychological, emotional or physical issues.
If your child is suffering from psychological distress, he/she may become withdrawn, depressed, agitated, anxious, unsociable and/or emotional. It is important to note that these signs may occur gradually or appear suddenly. If you feel that your child is dealing with something that is affecting his/her quality of life, you should trust your instinct and seek treatment from a qualified mental health professional.
Types of Child Therapy
· Family Therapy
Family therapy is a common type of child therapy. This approach is especially beneficial in situations where there is dysfunction and conflict within the family. Family therapists work with the entire family (children included) to help improve communication, reduce your child’s behavioral problems, improve your child’s self-esteem and resolve issues within the family. Family therapy also helps to strengthen the parent-child bond. Treatment typically consists of teaching your family effective communication skills and problem-solving strategies and re-establishing your role as the authority figure in the family.
· Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Another type of child therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy is beneficial for depressed and/or fearful children or those that have difficulties coping with stressful and/or challenging situations. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps your child restructure his/her unhealthy thoughts into healthier, more positive ways of thinking. A cognitive-behavioral therapist teaches your child stress management techniques, ways to relax when stressed, coping skills and positive thinking strategies.
· Art Therapy
Another type of child therapy is art therapy. Art therapists use a variety of non-tradition techniques and strategies to treat your child. The therapist may have your child express his/her fears, concerns, feelings and/or beliefs through painting, drawing, dancing, taking pictures and/or acting. Art therapy not only helps increase your child’s self-esteem and self-awareness, it also helps your child process traumatic events or disturbing emotions.
· Play Therapy
Play therapy is another type of therapy used to treat children with emotional or psychological issues. A play therapist utilizes fantasy and symbolism to explore your child’s hidden or blocked memories and emotions. The goal of play therapy is to help your child unlock painful memories and/or emotions, process them and cope with them in a more positive way. A play therapist helps improve your child’s communication skills and teaches him/her how to effectively manage his/her feelings.
Shapiro, J. P., Friedberg, R. D. & Bardenstein, K. K. (2005). Child & adolescent therapy: Science and art. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.