Do my child need therapy?
Children experience many emotional and behavioural problems that impact their ability to achieve their academic potential, make and maintain friendships, get along with family members, and feel emotionally secure. These problems can arise from many causes and can appear debilitating to the child and his/her family. Although all individuals occasionally experience sadness, worry, and difficulties with friendships, if these behaviours interfere with daily living then therapy may be warranted. Treatment approaches, such as therapy, can be effective in addressing emotional and behavioural concerns. Specifically, therapy can assist individuals in understanding their thoughts, feelings, and actions and assist in coping strategies and reducing symptoms.
Treatment approaches that we offer include both individual therapy. Some of the areas we work with include Anxiety, Non-verbal Learning Disabilities, Social Skills Training, ADHD, and the social and adaptive skills of children and adolescents on the Autism Spectrum continuum. We also offer Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), both individually and in groups.
Therapy For Young Persons
For teens, it is a time of change and opportunity. We know from new research that the brain has great plasticity here. Widening social circles, new activities and relationships, hormones — all of that can throw things off balance, as can adjusting to new roles, working your way from within the family to the larger world of the community, and confronting the daunting prospects of an unknown future. This is a time of great possibility, but often accompanied by the instability and confusion of transition. There can be issues of emotional volatility, disrupted family relations, drugs or alcohol, motivation, future academic and vocational planning and preparation, aggression or withdrawal, peer and romantic relationships, sexual activity, gender identity, among others. One of the important aspects of young adult/teen/ older child treatment is confidentiality. You and your parents need to know that the young person has protected privacy in treatment. Parents will be informed in cases of significant risk or danger, and, with the young person’s approval, parents may be brought into the specifics of what is going on: but sometimes, they are not. Sometimes, a young person needs a protected space to explore, to know that they can, together with the therapist, examine and consider what is right for them and what they want for themselves, furthering the development of their own individual identity, as distinct from their parents or family. That privacy must be respected.
Play Therapy for Children
Play therapy is often the treatment of choice for children roughly aged 3 – 11. For some ‘tweens, it can be a toss-up between play therapy and talking therapy, and may move back and forth between them. For children, play can be a language of communication and self-expression. Things that they don’t know how to convey in words can be put out in clear view with toys, drawings, and play interactions. Working with materials such as crayons, dolls, cars, monsters, etc., and sometimes with specific toys selected for that particular child, and sharing the play with the therapist, a child can experience a sense of being in it together, of being understood and supported. The child can act out what they don’t know how to say and can develop a feeling of mastery over what is bothersome via the mastery that they enact over the toys and play. Their choice of materials and how they use them conveys what the child is experiencing and feeling. The way that they do or don’t invite the therapist into their play speaks volumes about how they feel treated by others and how they want to interact with others outside the playroom. Children can use the play to work through inner feelings and anxieties.
As therapist, I take my lead from the child. Observing the play provides important insight into themes and feelings that may preoccupy the child and may underlie behavioural problems or concerns. It reveals the inner life of the child. Play materials are introduced related to known areas of history, e. g., a baby doll for a child who has a new sibling, a toy dog for a child who was bitten, mother and father figures for a child going through a divorce. This allows the child to reenact any trauma and work out their feelings about it, to move beyond feelings of powerlessness and helplessness and gain a feeling of some control and competence in their own life.
For younger children, insights are shared with parents, who may be invited in to participate, or given their own periodic sessions with me to talk about our observations of the child and progress or areas of trouble. For older children, there must be a balance between parental involvement and the child’s privacy, which is worked out for each individual case. Sessions may be few in number or ongoing long term, depending.
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