With children, therapy does not have to be the stereotypical activity that we often see in movies and on television. In fact, there is an amazing type of therapy that allows a child to grow into themselves, discover the world around them, and freely express their emotions without restriction. This type of therapy is known as "Play Therapy".
What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a type of therapy often given to children ages 3 to 12 that allows the child to play in a playroom while interacting with the therapist. Through the way that the child plays and interacts with objects around the playroom, the child learns more about who he/she is and the therapist is given the opportunity to see into the child's world.
Children who might be given this therapy include those on the autism spectrum, children who are currently dealing with traumatic events in their lives, and children who have behavioral disorders or mental illnesses. The ultimate goal of play therapy is to help children learn healthy coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills, to teach them how to be more respectful and kind to the people around them and to themselves, and to help them overcome the problems that they are currently going through.
Why Does Play Therapy Work?
The most important question that people ask is, who is play therapy for? That's a great question! The answer is that play therapy is great for any child and it is sometimes practiced with teenagers and even adults on occasion. All you have to do is find the play therapist that will be best for your child and their needs!
Like any other field, buzz words come and go through the world of psychotherapy and psychology. One word that has been trending lately is “attachment”. And not just attachment, but “reactive attachment”. Like the announcement of the ADHD era, parents and caregivers may be concerned and wondering what reactive attachment disorder is and does it effect me or my child?
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) refers to individuals that have aversions to touch and physical affection, control issues, anger problems, difficulty showing genuine care and affection, and failure to show guilt or remorse. Specifically in children, detached or unresponsive behavior is common. Children and toddlers also are less likely to reach to be picked up, reject efforts to be calmed or soothed, and attempt to avoid eye contact.
There are two types of RAD: inhibited and disinhibited. Inhibited type refers more to indiviudals that experience detached or unresponsive symptoms, while disinhibited individuals typically have difficulty selecting the appropriate people or caregivers to attach to.
Now I know what it is, but what can I do about it?
There are many ways to assist adults and children with working through Reactive Attachment Disorder in order to have more healthy and fulfilling relationships. For childen, unconditonal love is key to helping them learn to re attach in a healthy way. Setting positive limits and boundaries, maintaining predictable schedules and routines, and talking and playing with them regularly also can be helpful. For adults, changing faulty thinking patterns that have led to disengaging from others can be helpful. Working on gaining a positive sense of self-esteem and self acceptance may help as well. Professional help is available for children and adults that are struggling with or are concerned about RAD.
For your reading pleasure
A great book for promoting and repairing attachment with children is I Love You Rituals by Becky A. Bailey, PhD. It gives different activities for parents and children that encourage bonding and showing unconditional love.
Want help with Reactive Attachment? Click here!
Transitioning Back To School
August is the time where summer is winding down and parents are preparing their kids for back to school. During this time period many adults become overwhelmed and begin to lose sleep because they are up at night thinking about their to do list. This can also be a stressful time for children. Children may develop anxiety about making new friends and having a larger homework load. Here are some tips that parents can do to make the transition of going back to school easier for themselves and their children.
Begin a routine similar to the school routine. Most children stay up later and have different eating habits over the summer. A parent can help the child prepare for school by starting a more “school like” routine about two weeks before school starts. This requires an adjusted bedtime and ensuring healthy eating habits.
Start discussing what will change when school starts. This prepares children for the upcoming school year.
Relax and breathe deep! The transition to back to school can take some time but it won’t last forever.
Brace yourself and emphasize the positives of going back to school again!