Children's Therapy

How can I help my child?

Your child is struggling.  You can see it, but you’re not sure what to do.  You’re a loving, resourceful parent, and you’ve done all you can think of…but now you’re feeling stuck. How can you help your child?

As time passes, you can see that your child is not getting better, and your concern is growing.  Your child may be acting out, behaving aggressively, or experiencing high anxiety. Perhaps they seem depressed or unusually irritable. You’ve noticed they’re having in trouble at school or have problems playing with others.  Maybe your child is overwhelmed or upset by a new transition or loss.  You may worry about your child having healthy self-esteem or even just getting adequate sleep.

You aren’t alone. There is help available.

At Intermountain Counseling, a therapist specializing in working with children can help your child process their feelings, learn new skills, increase their self-confidence, and expand their ability to cope with stressors, transitions, and loss.  Your child’s therapist will also guide you in identifying ways to best support your child’s growth and progress.

At Intermountain Counseling, we recognize that you are your child’s most important resource!

Through counseling, your child will learn:

  • that their feelings are OK, and how to express their feelings in acceptable ways

  • positive ways to calm and self-soothe when they have “big feelings”

  • to express and process difficult feelings and experiences through play therapy*

  • to make choices and take responsibility for their choices

  • to increase self-control

  • to develop confidence in their ability to address problems and to cope with difficulty

  • self-respect and self-acceptance

  • skills for interacting more effectively and respectfully with others

  • they are significant, lovable, and unique

*A Few Words About Play Therapy for Kids

Children have a difficult time simply sitting and talking about their feelings and experiences.  This is why therapy for a child should not look like therapy for an adult.  Children often find it easier to project their feelings onto a doll or puppet or other toy rather than express them directly.  In your child’s counseling experience, toys and play become the words and language through which the therapeutic process takes place.  Play therapy may make you think of fun and games, but therapeutic play is not the same thing. It is a developmentally appropriate medium through which a child can express and process feelings, learn and practice new skills, and “play out” significant experiences or fears in a safe, child-friendly environment with a caring and highly trained professional.

Your child will benefit most from counseling if:

  • They are between 4 years old and 11 years old

  • They are exhibiting behaviors different from their typical behavior

  • They are struggling in school or with peers

  • They are “acting out” at home or exhibiting angry outbursts

  • They are experiencing, have experienced, or are anticipating significant stressors, transition, or loss

The counseling process:

For a child to enter treatment, both parents/legal guardians must grant permission.  If parents are divorced or separated, the current custody agreement must be submitted for compliance purposes. 

 

Sessions are 50 minutes in length, with approximately 35-40 minutes with the child and therapist, followed by a 10-15 minute connection / support time with the parent or parents.  Alternatively, your child may best be served by therapy with you participating in the session.  Your child’s therapist will assess your child’s needs and develop treatment custom-tailored to your goals for your child. 

 

The first session is held between the parent(s) and the therapist only, for the therapist to understand parental observations, the child’s experiences and behaviors, and the child’s needs.  This is also when the therapist works with parents or caregivers to determine goals.  Subsequent sessions are held with the child, or child and parent, depending on the unique situation and the parental goals for the child’s treatment.

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wHAT TO EXPECT

wEEK 1:

The parents and the therapist meet privately to discuss the child’s presenting behaviors, parental observations, family dynamics, pertinent events, feedback from the school or teachers, and what goals the parents would like the child to work toward.

Week 2 and THE FOLLOWING weeks:

In the early weeks, the therapist begins building rapport with the child.  This occurs best through utilizing play: the child’s modality of learning, development, and expression.  Our therapists recognize that the child’s needs must be met in a developmentally appropriate way through therapeutic play and activities. 

 

Rapport is built through the therapist engaging in play with the child.  As trust develops, the child becomes able to express feelings productively, gain a sense of self-efficacy, make choices, and learn skills to attain their customized treatment goals.

CLOSURE AND LAUNCHING:

This occurs when the therapist and parents or caregivers agree that the treatment goals for the child have been achieved.  The closure phase normally takes takes 1 to 3 sessions, depending on your child's needs.  Therapy should prepare your child to embrace their uniqueness, challenges, relationships, and feelings.  It’s vital that the therapeutic relationship not be ended prematurely, which would undermine what your child has work toward. If closure and launching is deemed appropriate, the therapist will work with you and your child to establish a plan moving forward so that your child’s developmental gains are maintained.