Children typically come to treatment when an adult in their life notices something concerning or problematic. Identifying target behaviors and the factors contributing to a patterned response is an essential part of creating a successful therapeutic treatment plan. Emotional support as well as behavioral modification strategies at home and school, consultation with teachers, and working closely with caregivers can be integral components.
I hope to empower the child's caregivers so that they can effectively help and support their children as they meet treatment goals and sort through emotional struggles. Sessions are typically spent between the caregiver and child both together and individually.
With children and adolescents, I use a multifaceted approach that includes play therapy, role playing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and family therapy. My most common focus areas are ADHD, depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, self-esteem, obsessive compulsive disorder, behavioral problems at home and at school, and autism spectrum disorders. I believe that progress can be made in any situation and consider family therapy a critical component of working with young people.
Can Play Really be Therapeutic?
Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilation of stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005). Play therapy helps children:
- Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
- Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
- Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
- Learn to experience and express emotion.
- Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
- Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
- Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.
Meta-analytic reviews of over 100 play therapy outcome studies (Leblanc & Ritchie, 2001; Bratton, et. al., 2005) have found that the over-all treatment effect of play therapy ranges from moderate to high positive effects. Play therapy has proven equally effective across age, gender, and presenting problem. Additionally, positive treatment effects were found to be greatest when there was a parent actively involved in the child's treatment.
(taken from the Association for Play Therapy www.ap4t.org)