Psychotherapy for children requires a comfortable play area with appropriate toys and games through which children may explore their world. Children shape our collective future. It makes the most sense to nurture them, guide them, and prepare them for the challenges they will face when they grow up. We (adults) are all role models for children, whether we are aware of it and/or want it. How we live around our children becomes a model for them to follow.
I work with parents in these and other areas. In many ways today’s children are more stressed than the previous generation. Divorces, reduced time with parents, high expectations from parents, early exposure to sex and violence, and now the fear of being hurt or abducted, or having a parent be hurt through terrorism, have all increased the stress that affect children’s behavior negatively. Therapy allows children to live out their fears and concerns through play. Healing occurs when the child feels safe to express himself/herself, is understood and validated by the therapist, and is given tools to better cope with his/her world.
Psychotherapy with adolescents is quite a unique process. Adolescence is the time to act out the opposing forces within: separation vs. attachment, dependence vs. independence, and adult identity vs. child identity. These powerful forces throw the teenager like a ball from one side of the psyche to the other; hence, all the acting out that you see in your teens.
Therapy helps make sense of it all and redirects the energy toward a more positive direction. Teens naturally attempt to create distance between themselves and their parents through various ways such as dressing differently, acting differently, and generally adhering to their own group culture.
Sometimes they go too far and create too much pain for themselves and their families. That is when therapy is beneficial. Adolescents in therapy benefit most by the psychological education about what is going on with them which is provided by the therapist. They need to feel understood and be assisted in their search for identity and independence.
“Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be.”
– David Bly