Unlike adults, most children do not or are unable to use words to express themselves. Instead, they rely on using play as their primary and most natural tool and medium to communicate. Play can include toy play (e.g. toy cars, blocks), imaginative play (e.g. dolls, puppets, play-acting), card and board games, drawing, and sand play (i.e. using toy animals, figurines and etc. on a sand tray to make a story). Children communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs through play – much like how adults express themselves through words.
As a child psychotherapist, I engage your child through play to understand his or her inner experiences, struggles, and sometimes unspoken needs and feelings. Through play I become aware of how your child might feel and think in reaction to his or her experiences at school (e.g. being bullied or teased by classmates, feeling isolated by peers, feeling anxious about his/her academic performance, being misunderstood by teachers, and etc.) and at home (e.g. feeling sad, angry or confused by conflicts or divorce between parents, feeling frustrated with a sibling, feeling lost and sad about an upcoming move to a different area, adjusting to losses in the family, arrival of siblings, abusive behaviors, trauma and etc.).
My role as a child psychotherapist is to understand what your child has expressed in play and communicate to you about how your child thinks and feels, and what your child needs at this particular time. Often it requires time and consistency for your child to develop trust, familiarity and safety with me. When such rhythm has been established, this will become the impetus in which your child finds safety to reveal his or her needs at his/her own pace. As understanding gradually establishes, I will provide regular feedback for you so that you can further understand your child, to develop effective parenting strategies, and to make plans for your child to address his or her unique behavioral, emotional, relational and/or academic needs.
In addition to regular sessions with your child, child psychotherapy is most effective when there is regular face-to-face meetings and/or phone conversations with you, teachers, family doctor, and other important individuals in your child’s life in order to obtain a comprehensive picture of your child’s experiences. While therapy and collateral contacts might take longer than you would expect, they are necessary steps for your child’s experiences to be fully portrayed and understood. Because of the importance of these contacts, the time invested in communicating with these individuals will be charged according to our mutually agreed rate.