Child psychotherapy may involve an individual child, a group of children, or a family. With children many techniques are used to enhance the trust and communication between therapist and child. The child may play, draw, build with blocks, or dramatize. These are important ways to allow the child to express emotions and feelings. The parents are a vital part of therapy with a child. The journey begins in the therapist’s office and should continue with changes made in the home and family setting.
As part of the initial assessment, the parents and child share information about the family dynamics and history. The child’s current issues, history, level of development, ability to cooperate with treatment, and the academic setting are important parts of the background history. Psychotherapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments, such as medication, occupational or speech therapy, and psychosocial evaluations. The relationship that develops between the therapist and child is very important. The child should feel comfortable, safe, and understood. This type of trusting environment makes it easier for the child to use the therapy for growth.
Psychotherapy helps children in a variety of ways. The child receives emotional support, resolves conflicts with others, understands their own feelings and problems, and tries out new solutions to old problems. The child learns techniques to control behavior. For example, the child may have impulse control issues and in therapy will learn techniques to think before acting. Therapy goals may include specific changes like better relationships with friends or more general goals like higher self-esteem.