Why do I feel like I am unable to take care of my child?
It can be so painful when you first realize your child may need more than you can provide on your own. It can feel like you should know what to do, or there is a sense of shame in needing to ask for help.
You may see emotional distress, behavioral concerns, social skills, lack of self-esteem, anxiety, or depression. Or perhaps it’s because your child’s teacher seems unable to understand your child. Or you feel like your child’s school is blaming you for things that you have no control over.
A friend tells you that your child needs help. A daycare provider expresses a developmental concern. Your child’s behavior increases or continues to a crisis point. Or there may be a trauma your child has experienced that needs to be treated, and it can’t wait.
What is Child Therapy?
There are many approaches to child therapy.
Many emphasize talking and thinking about feelings. Other approaches emphasize play and interactions during therapy. They most often involve directly teaching and practicing skills related to social interactions, emotional regulation, and behavior.
The approach needed depends on your child’s age, developmental stage, communication style, self-awareness, emotional state, and social skills.
They all include the experience of forming and developing a relationship with the therapist
Child therapy needs to include collaboration with the child’s parent(s) and caregivers.
Non-Directive Therapy (Play Therapy)
I prefer non-directive therapies for children, during which talking is not required. The focus is on the child’s preferred style of interaction with the therapist.
Children will express what they need, but many have great difficulty understanding what they are experiencing. Often, they will act out or isolate themselves.
Play is the natural language of the child. In non-directive therapy, the child chooses the format – playing, talking, using puppets, dolls, board games, reading books, and role playing. Often this can blend with directive therapy when the child will benefit.
Directive Therapy (Talk Therapy)
Directive therapy is a good approach when direct instruction, modeling, and conversation is needed. This can be useful in short-term therapy; crisis therapy; when safety is a concern; and when specific behavior and social skills need to be talked about, explained, and changed quickly.
Directive therapy also may be the preference of the individual child. Generally, this is going to involve Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which helps your child change the way they think and feel, and then change specific behaviors.
An integrative approach is what I follow. It creates flexibility and a creativity in how we team together as parent(s) and therapist. This approach means we can deliberately use different approaches to therapy over time, intentionally.
I am skilled at using play therapy, biblio-therapy, trauma-focused therapy, strengths-based therapy (in which the child focuses mostly on what their strengths are rather than a ‘problem’), and integrating arts (music, visual arts) into the therapy.
There are many ways to seek support for you and your child. Perhaps it is talking to a friend who will listen and understand. Perhaps it is a family member. Perhaps your child’s school has a social worker or counselor who can help. As a psychotherapist in Saint Paul, I have seen this so many times, and it is never easy.
If you would like to talk, call for a free consultation. No pressure. I’m happy to help you think through things. If we agree it makes sense to start, we generally can meet within one day for an initial meeting.
I am interested in being sure there is a good fit. There are times where I refer to other child therapists who have different experience than I do.
Let’s explore what your child needs today.