Talking makes up the majority of therapy - the patient talks about wants, needs, desires, hardships, the past, fears and more, while the therapist then responds to what the patent has said, starting a dialogue.
Research has shown that the simple act of talking reduces symptoms in patients, just by being able to express how they are feeling.
Such is not the case for children.
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In most cases, children are brought to therapy instead of wanting to go, and sometimes don’t even understand why.
In some instances a child shouldn’t be expected to understand why he or she is going to therapy.
In addition, most time children do not fully comprehend their emotional states and do not have the words to express their emotional state.
So how does children’s therapy work? Therapy for children is possible by two main options for treatment: play therapy and through parents.
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While treating children it is best to approach them with something they know and like, something which is not threatening - the most common option being play.
Through play the therapist can “introduce” themselves to the child, and can understand which underlying factors matter most to the child.
How does play therapy work?
Play is a symbolic way to gain an understanding as to what bothers the child, what they are sensitive to, and which emotions are connected to which situations.
Through playing, the child is able to recreate scenarios from their everyday life in a neutral setting.
For example, a little girl who is a social outcast in school might make up a scenario in which a group of dolls won’t talk to another doll, thus expressing how she feels.
Play therapy can also be through drawing or more formal games such as board games or card games, which help the child cope with scenarios of success and failure.
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Meeting with Parents
A crucial part of a child’s therapy is their parents’ involvement, for two main reasons:
Firstly, the therapist needs to have a full understanding of the child’s background, their development and their achievements in school and social life.
Secondly, the therapist only sees the child once a week, while the parents are with the child much more than that.
Parents need to take advice from the therapist according to their child’s needs, in order to help the therapeutic process fully take effect.
Play therapy and meeting with parents allows the therapist to gain a fuller, richer understanding of the child, allowing them to treat the child and help change their lives for the better.