When children come to my office for therapy services, I find that many times play therapy is one of the best approaches to use. This is especially true for younger children. Unlike adults, children naturally have a harder time expressing their thoughts and feelings because they just haven't developed the higher level thinking and language that comes with maturity. Children can also be pretty uncomfortable with direct conversation, but often open up freely while engaged in activity.
Within a play therapy session, children are allowed to play, create, and express themselves however they wish. I play and create right along with them while talking out issues, teaching new ways to cope, and helping the child learn how to better express their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes children just need a safe place to 'vent' and talk things out, and they find therapy to be very helpful for this. At other times children may need to learn how to express themselves better in order to get their needs met in healthy ways. When this happens, I like to incorporate the parent, guardian or caretaker in occasional sessions so that the new skills learned can be practiced directly and then used within the home, eventually eliminating my role.
Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children. Childhood can be a confusing and difficult time for children. If you feel your child is 'just not the same' or possibly struggling in some way, it may be worth an initial consultation to find out if therapy services could be beneficial. Helping children to cope, express themselves more effectively, and figure things out at an early age builds lifelong skills which can make all of life's transitions a little easier.
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