Therapy can be a great way to help kids cope with issues like anger, anxiety, and depression. It can also help kids learn healthy ways to think and behave.
Therapy differs based on the age of the child and how the problem is presenting itself. But most sessions focus on learning new coping skills and talking about feelings.
Behavioral therapy is a type of children’s therapy that teaches kids to change their behavior and improve their mental health. It can be an effective treatment for a wide range of problems, including attention and hyperactivity disorders, anxiety, depression, and social skills difficulties.
Depending on the child’s age and developmental level, behavior therapy can focus on teaching kids skills like problem-solving, communication, empathy, and social awareness. Therapists use activities, games, and discussions based on the child’s age to teach coping skills and help them learn how to share feelings with others.
In this type of therapy, the therapist asks a child to reflect on their behavior and then analyze why they feel the way they do. For example, if a child is being reprimanded at school for not doing his work, he may kick his desk or talk back to the teacher. The therapist would ask the child to record his thoughts and actions in a journal, then discuss them with the therapist.
Once the therapist understands the problem, they can develop a treatment plan to address it. Behavioral therapy can include strategies to reinforce good behaviors, such as giving stars on a chart or extending special privileges, and discouraging unwanted ones, like yelling or hitting.
A child’s environment also affects their behavior, so therapists might focus on how to make changes in the home. For example, they might suggest putting up curtains to block out noise or bringing along ear protection-like headphones when going out to play.
This kind of therapy is often used for kids with autism or other neurodevelopmental conditions. It can also be helpful for kids who are experiencing a difficult time at school, are dealing with peer bullying, or have trouble fitting in.
Various types of cognitive behavioral therapy have been shown to be effective for kids with mental disorders, including anxiety and depression. These include exposure and response prevention, which is used to help kids with OCD, phobias and other anxiety disorders confront their fears and learn coping skills.
Trauma-focused CBT, a type of trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy, is aimed at helping kids and parents who have experienced a traumatic event recover their sense of well-being. Using techniques like relaxation, systematic desensitization, and exposure to the situation that causes them anxiety, the therapist will help your child learn how to process the experience in a healthier way.
The therapist might also help your child practice these skills at home, or offer to work with you and your child to improve the situation. Examples of these skills might be:
For a child with ADHD, behavioral therapy can help them learn to set clear expectations for their behavior and eliminate or reduce problem behaviors, such as yelling or hitting. For a child with depression, the therapist may suggest changing unhealthy habits and rewarding positive behavior, such as joining in positive activities.
Another type of behavioral therapy is parent-child interaction therapy, which helps kids and their parents build stronger bonds and healthier habits of interacting with each other. This can include practicing positive interactions, sharing positive stories about one another, and learning to be less bossy or aggressive in social situations.
Play therapy is a type of mental health treatment for children that uses toys, games, and other play materials to help kids deal with emotional issues. It’s based on the idea that kids naturally communicate their feelings and problems through play. The child’s therapist observes them while they play, making a diagnosis and developing activities that can help the child heal.
The therapist also provides the child with toys, art supplies, and other items that allow them to express their feelings. The therapist can use these tools to identify the child’s developmental level, family and social relationships, and emotional difficulties. In addition, therapists can provide toys that are symbolic of negative events, such as violence and sexual abuse, to encourage the child to talk about their experiences.
Some therapists work with a variety of different types of children, including those with autism and ADHD, to address their specific issues. These therapists have advanced credentials, such as Registered Play Therapist (RPT) and Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT).
A therapist may use both directive and nondirective techniques to help children with their problems. In the directive approach, the therapist takes the lead by directing the play with a specific goal in mind. In the nondirective approach, the therapist allows the child to choose their toys and games without much guidance or interference.
In some cases, the therapist will work with the child’s parents or caretakers as part of their session. These sessions can be helpful to determine the underlying issue, as well as give parents a chance to discuss their concerns with the therapist.
If the child’s parents or caretakers are concerned about the therapist being too intrusive, they can ask to be removed from the room. The therapist can then focus on the child’s needs and concerns.
The therapist will also need to be able to establish a trusting relationship with the child. This is especially important for kids who have been subjected to traumatic experiences or are reluctant to speak with strangers.
Using toys to express feelings helps the therapist and child build trust. It can also help to build empathy between the therapist and the child, which is important in building healthy connections.
Toys also act as a visual representation of the child’s internal world, and the therapist can learn about the child’s thoughts and feelings by watching how they use them. Often, a child’s choice of toys and games can reveal the emotional state they are in, such as anger or frustration.
Other types of play therapy can include sand trays, role-playing, and other forms of interactive play. Sand tray, for example, is a technique in which the therapist provides the child with a tray and sand and allows them to create their own worlds. This is especially effective for children who have experienced sexual abuse, as it can help them move traumatic memories and sensations from the nonverbal areas of their brains to the frontal lobes.
In group play therapy, one or more therapists lead the children in playing games that can help them express their emotions. This can be useful for children dealing with a new parent or family member, as it gives them a sense of belonging and encourages positive interaction among peers.