The focus of therapy with children is on managing the externalizing behaviors such as tantrums, defiance, and inattention that extend past the scope of normal developmental behavior and signal a more significant underlying issue. These disruptive actions are usually learned behaviors that interfere with a child’s ability to socialize with peers, succeed in school, and problem-solve.
The objective of treatment is identifying the underlying issue (family issues; grief, divorce, abuse, moving / school Issues; bullying, academic difficulty). The Goal of treatment is training the child to express emotions appropriately and validate the difficulty in this task.
When Should I Seek Help from a Professional?
Some signs that suggest a child may need counseling include:
Significant drop in grades or academic functioning
Extreme mood swings and/or irritability
Episodes of weeping, sadness & depressed moods
Withdrawal from family and friends
Suicidal or homicidal thoughts or gestures
Change in motivation to participate in activities
Changes in sleep patterns
Changes in appetite
Increase in complaints about physical ailments
Suffering a significant loss or trauma
What Should I Anticipate During the Therapeutic Process?
Families should anticipate being an integral part of the treatment and will often be incorporated into sessions. Families should also anticipate the need for making changes alongside of the child’s efforts. As with any type of therapy, rapport is extremely important as a child needs to trust the therapist and be comfortable in the environment.
What Types of Treatment Are Used with Children?
The type of treatment used with children varies depending on the age, developmental stage, presenting problem, and learning style of the child. There are several therapeutic interventions shown to work well with children. Traditional talk and play therapy are the most common and useful modalities particularly when they lack the communication skills to share their problems or emotions.
Some of the most common include:
Play Therapy Interventions - These interventions incorporate a wide range of activities including but not limited to games, athletics, creation of artwork, role-playing, using puppets or dolls, and incorporation of a dollhouse to help the child express problems, emotions, and thoughts.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Interventions - The treatment focuses on the evaluation of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The intervention skills center on decision-making and problem-solving techniques.
Family Therapy Interventions - Often there are difficulties within the home that may need to be addressed. A therapist can
help family through improved communication, discipline, consistent structure, and positive family interactions.