Ever struggled to understand your childs emotions or reasons for their bad behaviour? Sometimes we need to do more than just talk. That's why play therapy has found such positive outcomes in expressing concerns in children.
As adults, we sometimes find it difficult to explain how we feel. So, can you imagine how difficult it can be for children to articulate their big emotions? A lot of the time, children have not yet developed the language skills to verbalise how they are feeling, but don't worry, they are often adept at communicating in other ways. Often parents will bring their children to therapy because they are acting out. Sometimes this can be in response to a big change in their environments, such as a parental separation or trauma. Other times, there is no clear reason.
When discussing triggers for the problematic behaviours, parents will often say "there are no triggers!" or "everything sets them off!" It can often be difficult to establish a link between a child's problematic behaviour and their emotions. For example, social anxiety in a generally well behaved early primary school aged child may present as defiance and tantrums. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in an upper primary school aged child may present as withdrawal and disengagement from school. When therapy is conducted with a playful focus, it allows our young people to express their thoughts and emotions in non-conventional ways, and develop the necessary skills to mitigate and manage them. Whether it is through role play, story-telling or art, children are able to give form to their internal state.
Through play-based practices, children are also able to externalise their emotions. This allows children to separate themselves from their emotions and/or problematic behaviour, providing them with an additional frame of reference to work from. During therapy, children will often find it easier to develop and apply solutions-focused strategies to a concept that they perceive as being separate from themselves. Through roleplay children can develop social skills and assertiveness. Through art they can develop insight into their unhelpful thoughts and build resilience. Through story telling children can develop skills in structured problem solving.
The possibilities are endless!
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