What Is Children’s Therapy?

By Julia Thomas

Updated January 25, 2019


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Child therapy is psychotherapy focused on the psychological needs of children. Like adults, there are times when children need the expertise of a psychotherapist and children's therapy was developed to fill this need. Most parents raise the question of what is children's therapy once they realize there is a difference between adult and child psychotherapy. A therapist trained in psychotherapy for children usually treat children between the ages of 3 and 11, but these ages may vary based on credentials and expertise.

There are also some therapists specifically trained to work with adolescents. A children's therapist is trained in the specific developmental needs of children and will be able to recognize indicators that a child may need some extra support. A child therapist will be trained specifically on evidence-based treatment modalities for children. These therapists will work with children to help the process and cope with emotions in the same ways that therapist support adults.

Some children may also have some difficulty adjusting to life changes and other losses such as moving to a new neighborhood or school. A therapist can help a child cope with grief and loss therapy. Other children may experience challenges with their behavior or mood while other children may have difficulty interacting with peers and in other social situations. Children who may need support from a counselor may experience changes in mood, irritability, or they may sleep or eat more or less than they normally do. Some children may act out while others may become withdrawn and experience less enjoyment in activities they typically enjoy.

Many therapists are trained in a variety of treatment modalities and will usually pull from a variety of techniques to best meet your child's unique needs.

Common Reasons for Children's Therapy

There are many different reasons why a child may benefit from children's therapy. Traumatic life events such as the death of someone close to the child, divorce, and bullying are a few reasons you may seek therapy for your child. The stress brought on by traumatic life events can trigger sleep problems, social problems, behavioral problems, and changes in mood. If you notice any of these symptoms, finding a licensed child therapist is a good idea.


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What is Children's Therapy?

Psychotherapy for children is a therapy that focuses on the child and it is scientifically based on techniques that are designed to benefit children. Children express emotions differently than adults. It is not uncommon for children to act out emotionally or exhibit mood, sleep, and social disturbances because they are not matured enough to articulate their emotions effectively. Licensed child therapists understand the unique needs of children and they have special training for working with children.

The question of "what is children's therapy?" is asked by many parents who have recognized that their children are struggling emotionally. Sometimes they ask this question because someone at the child's school has mentioned children's therapy to them. It is not uncommon for teachers to notice changes in a child's behavior, mood, or personality before a parent does. Children are exposed to social stimuli that they do not always experience in the home. This is one reason a teacher may be the first to mention children's therapy.

Types of Children's Therapy

Psychotherapy for children takes many forms, depending on the therapist, and the unique needs of the child. Play therapy is a type of children's therapy that uses play to help children articulate and express their emotions and inner thoughts.

Play therapy is designed to work from a child's perspective. It also helps the child feel at ease and open up to the therapist. Rather than having children sit and answer questions, play therapy allows children to learn skills and to process their emotions through what they do naturally and comfortably, play! A therapist can use play therapy to help a child feel more comfortable while they talk about their lives and emotions, play therapy can also be used to help guild conservation or to help illustrate conversations in ways they are easier for children to understand.


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Cognitive behavioral therapy is also used for children. This type of therapy teaches a skill such as learning to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, and how to use coping techniques for controlling their own behavior issues. This type of therapy works to give children skills for dealing with stimuli that makes them uncomfortable, and it addresses behavioral problems, social problems, and emotional problems, too.

Social skills training is another type of therapy that helps children who may struggle interacting with others in everyday social situations. For some children knowing how to maintain a conversation, make friends, or when to make eye contact comes naturally, for other children they may need a little extra help. Some children who struggle with certain disorders like Autism Spectrum disorders they may have difficulty interpreting social cues. Therapy can play a key role in helping these children learn social skills and can foster greater independence.

Trauma-focused and trauma-informed therapies- Many child therapists are specifically trained to help children process and heal from traumatic experience. Some children may develop trauma issues after experiencing sudden losses such as a death of a sibling or caregiver. Trauma can also develop after a child experiencing abuse and neglect, natural disasters, car accidents, or witnessing violence for example.

Grief counseling- Some children may need support when grieving a loss. A child therapist can help children find healthy ways to express their emotions and to heal from their losses. Because children in certain developmental stages understand and process death and other losses differently than adults, grief counseling help children understand the grieving process. It also gives children the freedom to express their sadness and other emotions without fear of upsetting their parents.

Family therapy- Often a child will need support within their families. A child therapist can work with families to help parents and child navigate through a child's challenges and needs. Children with behavioral issues often hear more negative feedback than positive which can negatively impact their self-esteem and worsen behaviors. A child therapist can work with parents can work with s to develop behavior plans and other positive reinforcement strategies to help parents most effectively manage their child's behaviors and boost their self-esteem.

Group therapy- Some children who struggle with behaviors issues or who need emotional support may benefit from group therapy. Group therapy allows children to interact with peers who are facing similar issues. Group therapy can help some children build social skills and self-esteem. It can let children know that they are not alone and there are other children who are facing similar challenges.

The type of psychotherapy to be used depends on the therapist. The therapist will tailor the therapy to the unique needs of the child, and the issues at hand. A good children's therapist has several types of therapy they can call upon to provide the child with the right help at the right time. Try BetterHelp today - https://www.betterhelp.com/online-therapy/


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