Dr. Eileen Callahan, Ph.D.: Children in Therapy

Children In Therapy86524740_mother_and_daughter_web.jpg (Small 210px)

Therapy can help children of almost any age. Even children in preschool can benefit from therapy. This is because therapy with children is often conducted differently than therapy with adults or adolescents.

Play is usually a large part of therapy with a child.  At times, parents will be confused about how play could help a child. Play is the language of children.  They do not yet have the vocabulary or ability to convey their thoughts and feelings in words so they act it out in their play instead.  Through playing with a child a therapist can get a sense of the issues the child is struggling with. The child can release and vent their emotions through their play. Additionally, the child can learn about how to manage their emotions through their play.

Child therapists also spend a great deal of time teaching children about how to cope with their emotions or behavior in healthy ways. The age of the child will determine the modality the therapist will use to teach these tools. They may use play, read books, play games, draw, or in an older child, simply talk about positive coping skills. The therapist will also lend support to the child through playing or talking just as they would with an adult client.

Another important part of therapy with children is the involvement of the parents. If children are struggling due to stress in the home, the therapist will typically enlist the help of the parent to minimize that stress. The therapist will work with the parent to help educate them about alternative ways to parent, support, or discipline their child based on the personality of the child. The therapist also relies on the parent to help support and encourage the use of positive coping skills that the child is learning about in sessions with the therapist.

Unlike adults, children usually do not have negative stereotypes about therapy. They frequently enjoy their time in therapy and can benefit from the support and education they receive there.

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