“Enter into children’s play and you will find the place where their minds, hearts, and souls meet.” – Virginia Axline
is a highly beneficial option if a child is struggling at home or in school. Just as adults are affected by stressors, so too are children. One of the main differences is that children don’t have the same cognitive abilities to express, process, and integrate their challenges like adults can. Children’s main form of communication is play, thus when working with children in therapy, play therapy is often used as one modality to express, process, and integrate their challenges.
Kids are communicating all the time through their behavior and emotions. This is because all behavior is a form of communication. When kids are behaving in ways that are unhealthy, it’s important that adults see beyond the behavior and emotional reaction, and get curious about what the child is really saying. Children are great at letting adults know when they need help learning a skill or when something is wrong. Sometimes kids communicate this verbally and more often they are communicating this through their behavior and emotions, which is often experienced as “difficult” “confusing” or “problematic” by adults.
For example: A 10 year old is having a hard time sitting still at school, following directions, and getting along with peers. As a curious adult that is seeing beyond the child’s behavior and initial emotions, you find out the child has experienced a major loss in their family. The child has many feelings about this loss and doesn’t know how to feel and talk about these big feelings. The child’s behavior is communicating that: 1. Something is wrong in my life. 2. I don’t have the skills to cope. 3. Moving around and distracting myself from these icky feelings is the best way I can cope right now, even though I’m getting in trouble for it.
Not only is their behavior and emotion communicating, it’s also adaptive, albeit unhealthy at times. Thus, working with children in therapy often requires parent involvement to further assess, educate, and support parenting skills.
Kids want to be happy and healthy.
When given a safe, therapeutic space to work through their challenges kids quickly learn how to help themselves. With parent involvement and support in the home, this process is even more effective and long lasting. The sooner a challenge is noticed and therapy is in place, the better off a child will be. A few sessions of therapy when a child is showing mild behavior is better than 20 sessions of therapy with a child is in high distress. Be preventative and get support.
Other modalities frequently included in play therapy are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, Somatic Therapy, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, and Nature therapy. If a child needs more than play therapy, we will work together to explore available options.