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Child Therapy: Helping Children Navigate Their Mental Health
Child Therapy: Helping Children Navigate Their Mental Health
Mental health is an essential part of overall well-being, and it’s something that affects people of all ages, including children. While many children may experience emotional or behavioural challenges at some point in their lives, it’s important to recognize the signs and seek professional help if necessary.
Child therapy, also known as play therapy, is a form of psychotherapy designed to help children explore and express their thoughts and emotions. Through various techniques such as play, art, and storytelling, child therapists create a safe and nurturing environment where children can communicate their feelings and develop coping strategies.
Why Is Child Therapy Important?
Child therapy is crucial for children who are struggling with mental health issues. Children who are experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, or behavioural problems may benefit from therapy to help them process their emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
In some cases, children may not have the language or cognitive abilities to express what they’re feeling, making it difficult for them to communicate with adults. Child therapists are trained to work with children and can help them express themselves through play and other activities.
Additionally, child therapy can help prevent long-term mental health problems by addressing issues early on. Children who receive therapy may be better equipped to handle challenges as they arise, which can lead to improved emotional regulation and overall well-being.
What Happens During Child Therapy?
Child therapy sessions may vary depending on the child’s needs and the therapist’s approach. However, there are some common elements that are often used in child therapy.
First, the therapist will establish a rapport with the child to create a safe and trusting relationship. This may involve playing games or doing activities that the child enjoys.
Next, the therapist will work with the child to identify the issues that they want to work on. This may involve asking questions, observing the child’s behaviour, or using art or play to encourage self-expression.
Once the issues have been identified, the therapist will work with the child to develop coping strategies. This may involve teaching the child relaxation techniques, problem-solving skills, or ways to manage their emotions.
Finally, the therapist will work with the child’s parents or caregivers to develop a plan for ongoing support. This may include additional therapy sessions, support groups, or other resources to help the child and family navigate their mental health.
Recognizing Signs for Child Therapy:
Sarah Long, a mental health professional at Livewise Associates, specializes in child therapy and provides valuable insights for parents who may be considering therapy for their children. Sarah shares some of the most common signs that parents should look out for:
Delayed Calming A long period of time between the beginning of an emotional meltdown, tantrum or crying episode, and calming down.
Unexplained Physical Symptoms Physical symptoms such as an upset stomach, headaches, or reluctance to attend school, that occur frequently and are not due to physical illness.
Various Forms of Anxiety Anxiety that manifests in different ways, such as avoidance of social situations or test-taking, or other non-verbal symptoms.
Overwhelming Sadness Extreme sadness, including crying, isolation, and frequent expressions of anger.
Persistent Behavioural Issues Regular, intense and long-lasting behavioural issues in the home or at school, such as trouble regulating emotions or behaviours.
By being aware of these signs, parents can take action early to support their child’s mental health and well-being.
Self Care Strategies For Children
Sarah Long shares some valuable self-care strategies for children to maintain good mental health:
- Taking a bubble bath
- Spending time with friends
- Reading a book
- Listening to calming music
- Incorporating the breathing square technique (inhaling for four counts, holding for four counts, exhaling for four counts, and pausing for four counts)
- Blowing bubbles or balloons to help with deep breathing
- Snuggling with stuffed animals
- Using a scream pillow as a way to release anger
By implementing these self-care strategies, children can improve their overall mental wellbeing and cope with challenging emotions in a healthy way.
Long Term Benefits of Child Therapy
According to Sarah Long, there are many long-term benefits to starting therapy as a child. One of the most significant benefits is the development of emotional recognition and understanding, as well as learning how to cope with challenging emotions. Sarah notes that starting therapy at a young age can help children to retain these skills more easily, just like learning a language. By practicing emotional regulation and coping strategies early on, children can build a solid foundation for their mental health and be better equipped to manage difficult situations later in life. This can help prevent future struggles with mental health and decrease the likelihood of needing extended time to recover from challenging events. Sarah emphasizes the importance of starting therapy young to increase awareness and openness about mental health and build a healthy foundation for long-term mental well-being.
Child therapy is a valuable tool for promoting children’s mental health and well-being. By creating a safe and nurturing environment, child therapists can help children explore and express their emotions and develop healthy coping strategies.
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A trained child therapist can work with you and your child to address any issues and develop a plan for ongoing support.
About Sarah Long
Sarah is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) with a very deep background in Psychology and working with individuals struggling with mental health and developmental disorders. Sarah takes pride in her unique approach when working with individuals and tailors each piece of treatment to the client’s personal goals. Sarah’s passion for working in the mental health field is driven by her own personal experience and her hope is to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
About Livewise Associates
LiveWise Associates was founded by Augustine Jatoe MSW, RSW, Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist. We provide counselling solutions for children, adolescents, families and organizations with a focus on diversity and inclusion.
To easily search, compare and book an appointment with a mental health professional near you, visit medimap.ca.