Child and Adolescent Therapy
Children and adolescents deal with their own unique stresses and challenges at home, in school, and in their peer groups. They are diligently working to find a balance between their own individuals needs and desires and the needs of their parents, family members, teachers, and peers. As young people learn to navigate stressful times successfully they can benefit from the support and security offered through a relationship with a safe and caring therapist.
Therapy involves a variety of techniques and methods used to help children who are experiencing difficulties with thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. Often children do not have the words they need to describe their thoughts and feelings and, at these times, play therapy techniques are extremely effective. In play therapy the therapist provides tools such as art supplies, clay, sand-play, social stories, drawings, visualizations, puppets, dolls and creative movement that children can use to play out and express the feelings and experiences that they have yet are unable to express with their words.
As children get older, they often need help and guidance as they negotiate their family and social systems. Adolescents and teenagers can benefit from support and assurance as they find their own voice and identity in their family. Having a confidential space to talk about thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without judgment or fear of repercussion is invaluable at this age group. Play therapy techniques are just as effective with adolescents as they are with younger children. Arts and crafts, drawing, collage, sand-play, storytelling, poetry and music are all extremely effective ways for adolescents and teens to express the thoughts and feelings that they hold so closely to their hearts.
When working with children and adolescents, we invite (and require) parents to participate in the therapeutic process. We know from experience that children make greater therapeutic gains when strategies that are developed in the therapy session are practiced at home. We have found, through many years working with children, that the family system is an essential “playground” to practice new skills and behaviors that are being learned with the therapist. Although this may be uncomfortable for some parents, it is very difficult to sustain those gains without all family members being involved in the change process. We ask parents to enroll in our small, six week parenting groups, where with other parents they can share their experiences with other parents and learn together how to support their children.
By law, adolescence stops at age 18. And although they may be of legal age, our experience has shown that some adolescents are not as emotionally mature as they’d like to think they are. In these cases some young adults may still respond to therapy techniques designed to help adolescents and even children. We recognize this as an opportunity, not a defect, and in many cases find that a hybrid approach during therapy can be successful.