About Therapy with Children
Children present unique challenges and treatment interventions. The therapists at Pathways to Change Counseling work with children 3 years and up. We use play therapy, Sandplay, parental coaching, Theraplay techniques, behavior plans, art therapy, games, CBT, and talk therapy.
For an adult, children appear to be unconventional apprentices. They learn about the world through a myriad of activities and play. So wouldn't it seem resonable to consider that play could be useful in therapy with children?
Years of research and study have shown that play therapy is an excellant way to conduct the business of therapy with children. In fact, children prefer to work out their problems indirectly through metaphors (colors, spaceships, witches, trees). This provides a layer of safety for fragile egos. In addition, children often have underdeveloped vocabularies, and lack the ability to understand the kinds of complex themes that adults talk about in therapy.
What can it do for your child? Play therapy can help children feel accepted and boost their self esteem. It can also teach children to take responsibility for their choices, to regulate their emotions, to share, to make choices, that there will be a next time (hope), and increase problem solving skills.
Because of the unique techniques employed by the child therapist during play therapy, a number of issues can be addressed. These include: trauma, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, aggression, empathy, and the mastery of developmental tasks.
These are just some of the reasons therapy with children is unique, and employs creative play, artwork, sand trays, and games.
Behavior plans often include thematic charts which help parents and children target change, and track success. Charts are often used by therapists at Pathways to Change Counseling, Inc. to increase positive and prosocial behaviors, and to help parents acknowledge and praise their to help shape their child's behaviors. Behavior plans are designed to extinguish negative behaviors by encouraging positive althernatives to problem behaviors, and by developing a balanced system of rewards and consequences that work for each child. This helps preserve the parent-child relationship and the child's self esteem. What better way for a therapist to encourage parents to acknowledge small but meaningful change, to use more praise, and to help a child get excited about behaving acceptably?
Our child therapists are aware of the importance of the parent-child bond in regulating emotions and influencing behavior. Therapists at Pathways to Change Counseling, Inc. are expected to have completed some training in Theraplay. Theraplay is well known for its ability to build stronger attachment bonds between a caregiver and child, which helps stabilize problematic behaviors in adopted and fostered children. However, Theraplay can also be used with children from traditional homes, whose attachment bonds have been weakened by the impact of separation, mental illness, or physical illness in the family.
When indicated, therapists at Pathways to Change Counseling, Inc. may use Theraplay techniques before, or in tandem with other therapeutic interventions.
Children can and do experience trauma. Sometimes this is physical or sexual abuse, but it can also be exposure to domestic violence, contentious divorces, and living with parents who abuse substances or are mentally ill. Children who have experienced trauma utilize Sandplay, art, CBT, Gestalt, and a variety of intereventions designed to give them back their power in a save and supportive setting. Our Roselle location is specifically designed for these types of children, although accommodations are made at the West Dundee location as well.
Children express their inner thoughts and feelings through images, stories, and metaphors. The Roselle office has a wonderful Sandplay room with over a thousand images children can use to create stories which represent their inner experiences. Used for both children and adults, Sandplay has been proven to help heal anxieties, grief and loss, trauma, and other issues. Children get excited about Sandplay. Here are a few samples of what might be seen in our Sandplay room.