As you decorate a child’s room with art at their eye level, age-appropriate toys, and child-sized furniture, so children’s counseling is tailored to the child’s age, development level and interests. Traditional “talk therapy” is ineffective for counseling children. A more accessible way to do counseling with children utilizes tools such as toys, games, art and books.
The first priority in counseling with children is to develop a relationship with the child, which is the foundation of therapy. This starts from the first moment that the child therapist meets the child. The child therapist intentionally greets the child at his or her eye level. When a child comes to therapy they are being brought by their parents and it may feel like a trip to the principal’s office in the child’s mind. The child therapist will make a concerted effort to calm the child’s fears, explain what counseling is, and form a playful and comfortable relationship with the child.
Developing a Child’s Vocabulary
A child’s emotional vocabulary is often limited to happy, mad and sad. The therapist helps the child expand their vocabulary by using a more extensive emotional vocabulary. The idea is to begin labeling his or her own emotions and the child’s emotions during sessions. This is done through games, drawing activities, and books.
Other subjects that may be covered in children’s counseling include enhancing social skills, processing a parent’s divorce, learning emotion regulation skills such as anger management and working through grief from the death of a loved one, a pet or a major move. If you are unsure about whether your child’s struggles could benefit from counseling, contacting a child therapist is a great way to get an outside perspective of what’s going on and knowing what the next steps should be!
Counseling can help improve your child’s social, emotional and life skills, which will help them to be a better-adjusted adult. Investing the time and money in counseling for your child now will prepare them for a future where they will have the tools and are equipped to deal with life’s challenges.