Individual Child Therapy

Addressing emotional challenges such as anger, anxiety, or depression using CBT, play therapy techniques & mindfulness 

Finding a therapist for your child can feel overwhelming. Furthermore, child therapy is different from therapy for adults. For this reason, your child’s therapist should be someone who is experienced in working with children facing emotional or behavioral challenges. How do you find that? You’re already there! Child Therapy Lab specializes in only treating children, so you can feel confident in knowing your child’s therapist is experienced and specifically trained in child therapy interventions that will help your child and family thrive!

 

Individual child therapy sessions are typically for children between the ages 8-12. These sessions aim to address emotional challenges such as anger, anxiety, or depression. The goal is to give your child new skills to better manage their emotions and process how what they think and believe impacts their behavior. Sessions are typically 45 minutes. 

 

**Note: it is recommended that younger children participate in family therapy. Individual sessions involve your child participating by themselves with their therapist and are best suited for children who can engage without requiring much parental guidance. However, if your child is younger than 8 or you’d like to work on your child and parent relationship (including communication, attachment, and family interactions), check out my Parent-Child Interaction Therapy or Family Therapy pages.


 

  • Therapy approaches:

    • Play-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques

      • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a talk-based therapy used to address anxiety, depression, ADHD, mood disorders, trauma, and PTSD. It is evidenced-based and shown to be a very effective therapy. In my work with your child, I go a step further and integrate play techniques, as most children aren’t too thrilled about the idea of sitting with an adult and “talking” for almost an hour. Play-based CBT will allow your child to engage in a way that feels more familiar and natural.

      • Using your child’s natural first language, play is incorporated in session with the goal of:

        • Learning and talking about various emotions

        • Allowing them to practice and role-play behaviors and situations

        • Teaching about helpful and harmful thoughts

        • Learning and practicing coping skills

        • Processing traumatic events or experiences 

        • Collaborating different ways to handle tough situations

 

    • Mindfulness and relaxation techniques for Kids

      • Mindfulness is a relaxation tool used to naturally calm the body and focus. It involves teaching your child to intentionally pay attention to what is happening in their body, including feelings, tastes, smells, sounds, and sights. Mindfulness is also noticing what is happening in your mind. 

      • The “body scan” is an example of a mindfulness technique where your child would be guided to “scan their body parts” and become more aware of what they feel. This activity is intended to be practiced very slowly as they move across various body parts (toes to feet to legs to waist, etc.) in order to connect with themselves in the moment. 

      • Mindfulness is a powerful practice aimed at:

        • Decreasing stress levels associated with anxiety, depression, and disruptive behaviors

        • Helping your child “slow down” and relax by noticing what’s happening in their body

        • Improving focus, attention span, and emotion regulation

        • Helping children make better choices through thoughtful problem-solving skills

 

What does an individual child therapy session look like?

There is no one way to engage in a therapy session and it varies across children. Generally, I use a child-led approach where I follow your child’s pace and interests. Play is usually involved and it is less “talk-based." At the beginning of the session, I explore feelings with your child and give options for choosing the session’s activity/focus. Through various play activities, your child is able to engage in the “work” of therapy, exploring various feelings/experiences, processing trauma or anxiety, role-playing, practicing new skills, controlling anger/frustration, and learning coping skills.

 

WHY USE PLAY?

Play is the natural language of a child. With this being known, it only makes sense to communicate with children in a way they best understand. It wouldn’t be fair to expect a child to adapt to “talk therapy” primarily, which could potentially create resistance to any therapeutic work if attempted. 

 

For a child, play is a fun and enjoyable activity that promotes positive feelings and optimism. Through play, a child can relieve stress, increase creativity and self-esteem, regulate emotions, and connect to people positively. 

 

The process:

Utilizing play and movement, your child will be allowed to process overwhelming and difficult emotions in a developmentally appropriate way. Throughout the process, your child and I will work on healthy ways to express feelings, identify and practice effective coping skills, get in control of BIG emotions, chip away at dysfunctional thinking patterns, improve critical thinking and problem solve, and understand how their thoughts contribute to the way they act. 

 

Although these sessions are largely individual, I like to keep parents involved throughout the therapy process. I often do “check ins” with parents before or after sessions to discuss updates, progress, and recommendations. Soon you will feel you also have the tools to support your child in their emotional and mental health wellness journey!

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