Therapy is based on the development of a trusting and honest relationship between a child and a therapist. Through this alliance, the child feels safe enough to explore and, eventually, share his or her thoughts, feelings, fears and hopes. The goals of psychotherapy include, but are not limited to, relieving emotional pain; increasing tolerance for a full range of emotions; promoting age-appropriate functioning and increasing feelings of competence and confidence.
Clinicians use play therapy to help children express and communicate feelings and emotions. For children, play is work and they use this to act out their feelings. Sometimes those feelings can be negative -- loss, sorrow, anger, frustration and powerlessness. As they become more comfortable, they may begin to verbalize more, and the clinician can help them describe their feelings and find solutions. But feelings can be positive as well; kids often use behavior to act out joy. Both talk and play give children the opportunity to put their feelings and experiences into perspective.
Family therapy offers parents and children safe ways of communicating with one another. It fosters mutual aid, direct communication and more effective problem solving within the family. By reducing parent-child struggles, it may also improve the interaction so relationships are more satisfying and there is more peace in the home.
Group therapy uses the power of group dynamics and peer interaction to affect change in the participants. This kind of therapy can be used to teach life skills, provide emotional support, promote social interaction and develop a greater sense of mastery. Some children find it easier to expressive their feelings to a supportive group of peers, and they often receive feedback from peers differently than from adults. Similarly, parents feel supported, understood and educated by their peers in group settings.