In the field of Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, specially trained and qualified professional therapists provide developmental psychotherapy and work with children and young people from the age of 6, who have emotional or behavioural difficulties and psychosocial challenges.
The therapist supports the child through the gentle nature of play and creativity where they can express and understand their feelings.
A Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist is trained to examine the psychosocial and environmental factors that can impact on development and explores how these disruptions can impact on their mental health.
Working therapeutically with children is different to working with adults and verbal counselling skills alone are not sufficient for the therapeutic outcome.
Children express themselves through play and a child psychotherapist, with their own unique approach, will create the correct therapeutic environment for the child by working therapeutically with them through play, sand tray, miniature symbols, clay, various forms of art, music, storytelling, allowing them to create their own narrative through imaginary journeys.
The psychotherapist relays verbally in a curious and non-judgmental manner what the child communicates through play, verbal expression, and behaviour. Facilitating a child-centred environment assists the child through therapeutic change.
“Toys are children’s words and play is their language” Garry L. Landreth
Play is a child’s natural form of expression which allows children to communicate their thoughts and feelings in order to work through painful experiences and upsetting feelings.
It is a developmentally sensitive therapeutic modality that helps children to resolve psychosocial difficulties and attain optimal growth and development. Play therapy uses a range of approaches, interventions and activities that cater to each individual child’s needs.
When working therapeutically with adolescents, it is important to understand the nature of their stage of life, the developmental process, and the unique challenges that they have experienced.
When the psychotherapist has established this, they can then integrate the therapy appropriate to the adolescent’s developmental stage encompassing the appropriate communication that the young clients understand.
This can include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Solution Focused Therapy (SFT), Creative Therapy including sand therapy, art, collage, poetry, story writing and music. Not only does this assist the therapeutic process but the aim is also to equip the young person with confidence and skills going forward.
This therapeutic approach and process can help children and adolescents experiencing sadness, anxiety including separation, social and school attendance anxiety, aggression, concentration, bereavement. Where they have undertaken additional training, certain therapists will work with eating distress, self-harm, suicide distress, gender identity LGBTQ+
It is important that the therapist you choose to work with your child has the appropriate training, particularly with the more complex presenting issues. Always ask the question and the therapist will give you more information on their qualifications and training.