Children & Adolescents
Bullying, Schoolwork/Grades/Academic Performance, Friendships/Relationships, Divorce/Family Disruption, Peer Pressure/Acceptance and Low Self-Esteem are all common stressors
Children and teens are not getting the mental health treatment they need. Many are on long waiting lists, and fewer than 25% are receiving help. According to the latest research, at least 5% of children and 9-20% of all adolescents suffer from depression and or anxiety. The risk is even higher if their parents experience depression as well. Common stressors include: bullying, schoolwork/grades/academic performance, friendships/relationships, divorce/family disruption, peer pressure/acceptance, and low self-esteem.
Replacing harmful thought patterns
Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) helps improve a child’s moods, anxiety and behavior by examining confused or distorted patterns of thinking. CBT therapists teach children that thoughts cause feelings and moods which can influence behavior. During CBT, a child learns to identify unhelpful thought patterns. The therapist then helps the child replace this thinking with thoughts that result in more appropriate feelings and behaviors.
Numerous changes can be overwhelming
Young adult issues, which may arise in those who are in their late teens and early twenties, may consist of difficulties with peers, sexual or developmental concerns, school or career challenges, family differences, and so on. Because the rapid and numerous changes often characterizing this period may be overwhelming, young people may find the services of a therapist or other qualified mental health professional to be beneficial as they transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Expressive arts and the use of play materials have been widely identified as effective methods of supporting children and adolescents through emotional and behavioural symptoms. Incorporating play techniques into CBT can help them more easily express their difficulties through a variety of non-threatening mediums. Some of the materials I use include: sand tray, miniature animals and objects, clay and play dough, puppets, games and activities and art & crafts. I also incorporate mindfulness into my work using mindfulness practices that are suitable to children & young people.
Miniature Animals & Objects
Miniatures are helpful in aiding the child/adolescent to explore their relationship in different situations and with different systems e.g. at home, in school, hospital visits, etc. Miniatures can be used on their own, or incorporated into sand-tray work.
Self-Expression and Identity
The very act of drawing is a powerful means of self-expression that helps establish one’s self identity and provides an effective way of expressing emotions. Children/adolescents who find it difficult to talk about their wishes and needs in connection with past, present and future situations may find it easier to do so through the symbolic language of drawing, colouring or collage.
Bridging Gap between senses and feelings
This is a very appealing medium for all ages due to its soft, mushy texture. The sensuousness of clay can help bridge the gap between senses and feelings. Through clay the child/adolescent can get in touch with and release strong emotions. Clay work doesn’t involve creative skill, but is rather a means for representing emotions
Helping with Expression
It is often easier for children to talk through a puppet than it is to verbally express their difficulties. The indirect approach of puppetry protects the child’s inner pain from being directly exposed; instead it is disguised as belonging to the puppet or soft toy. This allows the child time to process the emotions and difficulties they are experiencing until they are ready to own and confront these issues in themselves. Children particularly enjoy working with puppets and or soft toys as they are easy to manipulate and are familiar toys for most children.
Telling their Stories
Sand is a marvelous medium for working with children and young people [in fact all ages enjoy sand work]. Through the sand-tray the child/adolescent can more easily tell their story, by recreating, in a safer way, events and situations from their past and present. They may also explore possibilities for the future or even express their fantasies in the sand-tray.
Opportunities to Experience & Practise Responses
Games are not only fun and relaxing but help promote trust and confidence and help to build a therapeutic relationship. Games also allow the child opportunities to experience and practise responses to tasks involving communication, social interaction and problem solving.