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Types of Child Therapy

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

There are as many types of child therapies as there are children. Not really, but sometimes, this is how it can feel! This is the simple answer that always comes back to therapy being individually based. Each child has a unique story, a unique soul blueprint and a unique purpose and mission here. I believe that it is worthwhile to investigate on the different types of therapy and how they may benefit your family. Even siblings with the same parents and the same living environment have their own unique needs, sensitivities and desires in this life.

Magic Moments Therapy LLC operates with a blend of theories listed below which allows for the needs of each individual child to be met with unwavering presence. I believe whole heartedly in child-centered play therapy because that is how we see, learn and inform ourselves about the core of each child’s world. Internally, each child carries their wounds, their impressions and their passions. Learn more about the types of child therapy that we gravitate toward:

1) Child-Centered Play Therapy is what I like to refer to as the philosophy of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He strongly believed that play is the work of childhood. As adults, we want to bring meaning to play and make sense of what is happening. Child centered allows what is happening to be expressive and real rather than literal and fact. This is what allows free expression without judgement. As soon as you enter the room, you are entering the child’s canvas of what it is to be in their world. You see how they prioritize you, time, space, pacing, energy, and their individual values. Child centered play is best for ages 3-12. An important aspect of child centered therapy is that each child leads the way of their own unique process.

2) Parent-Child Interaction Therapy is best used when there has been an isolated trauma or an event that has contributed to challenging disruptive behaviors or complicated feelings. Children and teens who struggle with self-regulation or who demonstrate destructive behaviors or maladaptive coping strategies after experiencing traumatic events benefit strongly from mindfulness and awareness building. It can be a lot to process and hold these heavy feelings, especially perceiving to hold them alone. Parents can often tell when their child is holding onto the heaviness of their emotions and not knowing how to handle or release their baggage without any shame or blame. With parent interaction, therapists will offer up guidance and coaching on how to interact with our inner worlds. The parent will see if that feels true and then try it on for size. As we work together to embody what feels authentic and in integrity for honest communication, we start to see the more challenging behaviors decrease in frequency, duration and time because the underlying need is actively being exposed, revealed, emerging, seen and tended to for unconditional positive regard. This also provides space to develop and strengthen the relationship between the parent and child. Children tend to feel relief, increased self-esteem and attention when they know that their parent understands them deeply. Sometimes parents need more time and practice to be taught how to effectively slow down in order to respond to the needs of their children from a place of emotional intelligence in empathetic ways that also feels genuine. Parents practice these skills of ownership and accountability during play sessions with their children and perhaps at home as well. We check in each week to see how the guidance has translated, where we landed that week and how we can adjust accordingly for integration moving forward. We are always assessing and encouraging truthfulness to maintain maximum benefits from the process.

3) Emotionally Focused conscious parent coaching for parents anchors deeper connection. The reason emotionality is emphasized is because children communicate primarily through energetics and feeling. Their cognition is not fully developed yet, so in effort to meet them where they are emotionally, it is important to take an emotionally focused lens. Emotion Focused approaches root in attachment theory and focus on strengthening interpersonal relationships as a path to well-being. In theory, if children are mirrors for the parent(s) we lean into the magnitude of what is presenting. When the parents feel this amplification, the goal is to form a secure parent-child attachment, stick with what is presenting and show up fully with listening, understanding and an open heart. All of this requires a tremendous amount of willingness, courage and vulnerability when triggers arise. Magic Moments Therapy LLC holds core values of trust, truth, expression and courage. All of which are required to promote a more sustainable self-concept, open dialogue, transparency and ultimately better emotional regulation modeling for child(ren) absorb and display. When parents understand that their children mirror all aspects of themselves, like a disco ball, we learn to exist with it all. All dimensions, shadows and reflections get to happen in this collaborative symphony. Parents have seen emotionally focused conscious parent coaching help them reduce their families stress and increase their effective communication.

Sometimes children choose a more non-verbal nature of creating. That might come through as art, music, fine motor practice, sensory stimulation or soothing. Choice empowers the space and permission to meet each need. Sometimes kids want to hum and regulate as they lay under the weighted blanket. This is ideal for the child who has a hard time talking about their feelings but still wants to open up in other ways of sharing that equally contributes towards building rapport in a therapeutic relationship. Following the lead of their own intuition and their own curiosity is wonderful because that often communicates a deeper trust with themselves. When we are choosing to be non-verbal, this side of us engages more in the sensational aspects of the therapeutic qualities and is wonderful for expression to come through for those who gravitate toward visual, tactile and sensational methods. If children choose to be non-verbal that can indicate that they are benefiting from the calm and neutral moments they are seeking.

When you do feel ready to find the right fit therapist for your family, make a list of the qualities that you want in a therapist. Interview a few that you think would be a good fit and have a meet and greet where you can get a feel for the space and have all of your questions answered. Starting therapy is a very personal decision and it is important to make sure that you get the support you are looking for. Being open and honest with your therapist builds trust. Make your decision together as a family. Allow your child a few choices and allow them to be involved with the selection process. If they are old enough, allow them to choose between a few selected candidates that they would want to go with. Empower them with their decision making skills. Some children love to receive guidance, while others may be more hesitant. Both are very normal. Trust your gut! When you start the process with who you choose, allow therapy to become normalized and validating and always ask your questions! Be well and cheers to your healing journey. xoxo

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