Children

 

It’s not about what it is. It’s about what it can become.

-Dr Suess

 

Your kid is amazing… except when they aren’t. There are days when you struggle to get through five minutes without yelling at your kid. You don’t want to yell, it just seems like your kid doesn’t respond to anything else. They struggle. They struggle at home, at school, on play dates. You read the blogs, you read the books, you watch other moms looking at ease and wonder what you are doing wrong.

Whether your child has just been struggling because of a life event like divorce, death, or a traumatic event, or whether your kid struggles with attention or hyperactivity, I can help you find a strategy that will allow you to breathe again. I do play therapy with children ages 5-13. Play therapy is an effective way to communicate with kids, get clear on why they are struggling, and develop strategies that they can use to better manage themselves, as well as get insight that can help you as a parent respond in ways that match your child’s unique needs.

How do I work with children

Working with children is very different than working with adults…although in all honesty, I find that most parents also have a lot of fun in the playroom ☺ A child’s most natural way of communicating and self-expression is through play. It is difficult for children to talk about their thoughts and feelings because of their developmental limitations and defense mechanisms. Therapeutic play gives the children the ability to be able to express their emotions through the use of play and art-based activities. Therapeutic play is a well-established approach based on developmental principles and can promote optimal growth and change in a child.

I want counselling to be a good experience for our children, it is important to me that they come away feeling understood and encouraged from our sessions. I find using therapeutic play, helps the child to explore and express themselves in a safe environment giving them the ability to work through problems that they couldn’t in a talk based therapy.

Does this sound like something you’d like to try? Contact me for your free 15 minute phone consultation to learn more. I can help you figure out what is best suited for your child and your family to get things moving. I provide Parent CounsellingCounselling for Moms  and Counselling for Caregivers in Fort Sask AB.

 

Contact

 

What would play therapy look like?

How long will counselling take when working with my family or child?

The number of session I have with each child and their family is different for each situation. I work closely with the child and family to determine the specific needs of the child and what may be needed to meet those needs. My standard approach is to start with 6 initial sessions, which would include:

Session 1 parent/caregiver (please do not bring your child this will be an adult only session):

In this session we would discuss family history, why you came to see me, how it is affecting you and your family, and what you would like to see improved while we work together. We will set a goal for moving forward and if we have time we may discuss a few things you could start doing right now to help with your situation

Session 2-5 child:

In these sessions your child and I will work on building a trusting relationship through play. It will be a getting to know you time for both of us. We will use this time to assess strengths, resiliency and developmental levels of your child. During this time your family may be given some things to do in between sessions, such as reading a relevant book, using a technique or keeping records to track certain behaviours. (*The number of sessions may be reduced through the active participation of both the parents/caregivers and the child in session and at home.*)

Session 6 parent feedback (please do not bring your child to this session, it is for adults only):

In this session we will discuss progress, resources, recommendations and if required, outside referrals. This is the time when we will decide if further sessions are needed.

Will my child and I be seen together or individually?

This again is determined by what has brought your family in to see me. Normally parents will be given 5-10 minutes at the beginning of the session to discuss concerns or progress made during the week, after which your child will work with their counsellor for the rest of the session time. During the last part of the session the counselor may also provide homework for the week and/or strategies and recommendations to experiment with at home.

There also may be times the counselor requests to see the family as a whole or see particular members of the family together to work on specific issues. This will be determined during the course of treatment.

What if my child does not want to come?

Typically children are anxious to meet somebody new, especially if that somebody is there specifically for them. This is normal for many children, so expect this to happen. After the first session however many children will be excited to go back.

At times children will require the parent/caregiver to attend the first five minutes (sometimes more) of the session until they get comfortable. Again this is normal and the parents/caregivers are welcome to stay until the child feels comfortable enough to have the parent leave.

Want to know more about how to make counselling more effect for your child?

Helpful Information for Play Therapy

 Pre session information
Let your child know he/she will be seeing someone who will help be helping him/her with tricky feelings. Let your child know they will use play, art and sand to help them feel better from those tricky feelings. If your child is coming for a specific problem, let them know in a developmentally appropriate way that the person they will be seeing is going to help them to figure out their problem through the use of toys, sand tray or art materials.

First Meeting
Typically children may be anxious when they meet somebody new, especially if that somebody is there specifically for them. This is normal for many children so expect this to happen. After the first session however the majority of children will be excited to come back.

Parents in session
Many times children will require the parent to attend the first five minutes (sometimes more) of the session until they get comfortable. Again this is normal and the parents are welcome to stay until the child feels comfortable enough to have the parent leave. Following the lead of your counsellor is important, they may say “Today Mom will be waiting right here until you are done” or “invite you to join them in session”

Comfort Zone
Allow your child to bring a favorite toy, blanket or something small but meaningful; some children require the support of a special stuffed animal or toy they wish to bring to session. Bringing a toy is helpful, however it is important not to bring more than one as they may get mixed in with the other toys in the playroom and lost.

Bathroom break
Please take your child to the washroom before the session starts.

Waiting Time
Reminding your child that you won’t be leaving the building and will be sitting in the waiting area until they are done can help alleviate some of their anxiety about being in session. Once they are comfortable this may not be necessary.

Clothing
Please dress your child in clothing you won’t be worried about getting dirty or stained, I try my best to protect their clothing but that doesn’t always goes as planned 😉

Sibling or Family Sessions                                                                                                     If more than one member of the family is having a session on a particular day it may be helpful that the family bring games and toys to play with together as waiting for an additional hour can feel like forever for a child especially after their own session. It may also help to bring a snack and juice box.

Give your child a zone of privacy
It is important the child feels they have control to tell you as much or as little as they would like about their sessions. This provides a sense of confidentiality for the child to feel safe.  It is very important the child feels they have permission to talk or not to talk. Children like to please caregivers and will feel pressure to share even when they do not want to, or are unable to talk. Be sensitive and aware of how the child may be feeling.

Give your child a choice to display their art. 
Ask your child where they would like to put the artwork. Children may not want to put their work out for everyone to see. Think of it this way… displaying their work would be like displaying notes from an adult’s session for everyone to read. Some children – just like adults – are very private and would prefer to have their artwork be the same…private.

Dealing with difficult sessions                                                                                       Some sessions may be particularly rough for your child after having brought up all kinds of feeling. Sometimes you may notice more behaviours in the evening of the session and maybe the following day.  To help lessen those behaviours keep to the normal routine. Don’t take your child to the mall or other places that you know normally sets them off such as shopping. Depending on the child, doing something active like riding a bike, swimming or jumping on the trampoline can make a big difference in how they feel and help them to manage their feelings. Make sure you validate how they are feeling… “You are mad (frustrated, sad, upset, furious) at (insert behaviour) but I am not for hitting, you can use your pillow for hitting” Validating doesn’t mean you agree with the feeling just that you understand that they are feeling this way! Having  a favourite toy, puzzle, or game or a cool down kit ready so they can play with is helpful for distracting. Above all make sure they are fed. Hungry kids become Hangry kids!.

 Sibling or Family Sessions                                                                             If more than one member of the family is having a session on a particular day it may be helpful for the family to bring games and toys to play with together, waiting for an additional hour can feel like forever for a child especially after their own session. It may also help to bring a snack and juice box.

After Session routines
After session routines are very helpful, they provide a sense of containment around their emotions, they will know what to expect and it provides special quality time with you helping them to settle quicker.
 
Examples of such things could be:

Window shopping

Going for a walk

spending 5-10 minutes at the park

stopping for a slurpee, ice cream, hot chocolate or donut

Reading a chapter of a book together

Post session questions
After the session do not ask your child if they had fun playing. This type of play is different than in the home and can be emotionally difficult and draining for your child they didn’t just play they worked!

Empty Tummies
Please make sure that your child has had a snack before the session, it’s hard to work on an empty tummy.

Click below to book a free 15 minute consultation to start seeing the changes you want in your family today!

 

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info@healingfamilymatters.com
780-851-7740

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