Child Therapy is usually based on the idea that children best express their feelings, thoughts and experiences through play. Whereas adults often (but not always) express themselves through words and ideas, children “show and tell” what is happening for them through using the symbolic language of play. Our therapists are trained to “understand” the language of play and convey to a child their understanding, acceptance and response to the child’s concerns.
How do I know my child can benefit from therapy?
Searching for a therapist for your child can be overwhelming. At Frager Associates, you have the advantage of a community of therapists with different theoretical backgrounds and orientations. Some of the signs your child may benefit from therapy are:
- Difficulties at school, either with teachers, peers or academics.
- Sudden changes in mood or behavior.
- Difficulties with sleeping, eating or going to the bathroom.
- Irritability, difficult “temper tantrums”, excessive anger or aggression.
- Sad or scary dreams, nightmares, or fantasies.
- Preoccupation with ideas, thoughts or feelings that seem inappropriate to their age.
Anxiety and depression often manifest differently for children than they do for adults. If your child is having a hard time with their behavior at home, at school or with friends, or if they are having a hard time transitioning from one activity to another, they may be expressing unspoken concerns and fears. It is always a good idea to call us and speak with one of our child therapists about whether therapy might be helpful for your child.
How Does Play Therapy Help Children?
Play therapy often has a profound healing effect on a child’s life. The ability to communicate their deepest fears, wishes and concerns and the feeling of being understood and received is extremely meaningful on its own. Additionally, our child therapists work with each individual child and their parent to structure the therapy so a child heals their wounds and gains new ways of feeling, thinking and relating. Play therapy is child-centered, meaning its focus is on the child and their inner worlds. However, our therapists will always work closely and collaboratively with a child’s parent/s to better understand the child in the context of their home, family and community, and to make sure that the gains from therapy carry out into the child’s life outside of therapy.
What Issues Does Child Therapy Address?
Child therapy has been shown to be greatly effective in a wide variety of situations, for children facing a variety of challenges, including:
- Separation/Divorce and other family changes.
- Trauma that the child experienced or witnessed.
- Grief and loss of loved ones.
- Recovery from child abuse (physical, sexual or psychological).
- School or academic problems.
- Sleeping or eating problems.
- Difficulties in relating to other children or adults.
- Aggression, irritability, anger.
- Behavior problems.
- Depression, anxiety and other emotional distress.
What about Adolescents?
Adolescence presents itself with incredible challenges. Teenagers often feel caught in between childhood and adulthood, and are struggling to find their own identity while undergoing rapid physical, emotional and intellectual growth and change. Therapy with adolescents integrates both play therapy and talk therapy, and is tailored around each adolescent’s particular needs and capacity. Though adolescents can use words to convey themselves a lot better than younger children, there are still parts of their experience that are hard to access through words and ideas. There is often a gap between a teenager’s emotional and intellectual development and capacity. We offer therapy for adolescents to specifically address this gap.
Other ways to work with adolescents (and younger children) include:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is a modality of therapy focused on thoughts and behaviors. Through talking, thinking and planning together, the therapist may help a teenager with facing specific stressors, phobias or difficulties.
- Therapy focused on specific issues, such as substance abuse, sexual or other risk-taking, aggression towards peers or family members, truancy and more.