“The way we talk to children becomes their inner voice”– Peggy O’Mara
The goal of therapy with children is for the child to become more comfortable and content, less anxious, and better able to deal with everyday stresses. Feelings of frustration, anger, and unhappy relationships with other children, family members and people in general are often reasons children come to therapy. Added to the inevitability of the typical hurdles of simply growing up, many children are often dealing with more complex issues such as divorce, blended families, domestic or sexual abuse, bullying, economic instability, trauma, death of a loved one, learning disabilities, and other neurological and psychiatric issues. Children often express a cry for help through their behavior that can often be misinterpreted as “bad behavior”.
One of the primary types of therapy I use with children is play therapy. With that in mind, I have created a playroom in my office specifically designed for this purpose so that children are as comfortable as possible. Play therapy has been an established mode of therapy for children for over 60 years. Therapists use play to gain insight into a child’s psyche. It becomes a metaphorical language which trained therapists are able to interpret to gain an understanding as to what a child may be feeling. Children having difficulties with their behavior or emotions are most likely incapable of expressing themselves in the way that an adult would, through talking.
Psychodynamic play therapy is a way to help children deal with psychosocial challenges. This is a way for them to freely express their feelings through a familiar and natural process. Children are so wonderful at immersing themselves in fantasy, allowing therapists to use puppets, storytelling, and play as an imaginary space to learn about children’s innermost feelings and thoughts.
It is well known that play therapy helps to provide a secure relationship between the child and the therapist and allows room for the child to express himself in his own terms and the way he is at that time and in his own time.