Children usually have more difficulties to communicate their psychological and emotional struggles with clear words than adults; however, that does not mean that kids are not expressive. Children, in fact, communicate their problems through a variety of meaningful verbal and especially non-verbal messages. Some clues that a child may be experiencing mental illness are poor and constant failing grades although he or she has tried hard, drastic changes in school performance and achievement, hyperactivity, constant nightmares, frequent and constant temper, extreme anxiety or worry, and aggressiveness or defiance.
In cases like these, it is very important not to ignore the signs because emotional and psychological issues in children can have a lasting negative impact even through adulthood. Counseling is especially helpful for children because the therapist focuses on approaches that are conducive for the kids to express not only in words but also through behavior, both of which necessary for accurate psychological assessment and essential on the healing journey.
In our office, we utilize a variety of approaches that aim to help children. One of the main approaches is cognitive behavior therapy that is age appropriate. In this modality, the therapist searches for cognitive distortions that are affecting their ability to interpret themselves, others, and circumstances in a healthier manner. This is done with gentleness and in steps in order to respect their developmental abilities.
Play therapy is combined with cognitive behavior therapy. One of the reasons is that it is important to utilize play therapy approaches to children is to allow them to express in their language, which is naturally done by playing. Through playing, the therapist can assess the child and her/his difficulties and work on recovery. Because the play is such an important component in working with kids, we have a play therapy room to facilitate and enhance their treatment.