Children's behavior, beliefs and emotional reactions stem partly from impressions and experiences that they internalize—particularly during their early years—and partly from their inherited and individual characteristics. Therapy gives children and adolescents a place to move through whatever might be troubling them and to find healing as well as greater confidence and maturity.
Therapy for Children and Early Teens
My approach to therapy with children ages 3 to 14 is play therapy and sandplay. I also create and tell therapeutic stories when needed. Play therapy and sandplay enable children and early teens to explore and resolve the inner conflicts and distress that cause their emotional and behavioral problems. My work with young adolescents may also include active listening, empathy, dialogue, cognitive restructuring, dreamwork, art, active imagination and re-parenting to support the teen through difficult or challenging times.
Parenting consultations without the child or early adolescent present are an important part of my work with children and teens. In these parenting sessions we collaborate to understand the child or young adolescent's needs and work to find optimal parenting approaches.
What is Play Therapy?
Until about age 14, creative play provides the best vehicle for a child to communicate his or her inner thoughts, feelings, conflicts, hopes, wishes and needs. The play therapist is trained to read a child's pictorial language and also to communicate in the language of metaphor. This reassures the child that his or her hidden thoughts can be understood.
Feeling reassured and understood, the child can go deeper in the play experience, finding and expressing what is hidden beneath the surface of his or her defensive adaptation to life. This includes memories and feelings that are distressing and need to be resolved as well as the child's "buried treasure" —the child's own resources for mastery, renewal, health and growth towards his or her fullest potential.
The result of exploring under the surface of the child's maladaptive patterns is likely to be positive growth and change which can be seen in maturing, balanced, self-confident thoughts, feelings and actions and a greater degree of self-control. Such capacities for healthier living can become a new foundation for the child's future life.