Art and play are the child’s natural form of language and expression. Used as therapeutic modalities, they provide children with the opportunity to experience growth and healing under the most natural of conditions. Where adults are able to use words to express themselves and their experiences, children do this through art and play.
Children come into therapy for a number of reasons. Some of these issues include:
- Fear and anxiety
- Chronic illness
- Loss and bereavement
- Shyness and low self-esteem
- Sleep problems
- Anger and aggression
I work fairly eclectically and according to the needs of each unique child. In so doing, I use a combination of directive and non-directive techniques. I place great emphasis on the development of a solid therapeutic relationship between myself and each child.
The first 3-4 sessions of therapy are assessment-based, after which time I will see parent(s) to gain a more detailed follow-up history, to discuss feedback and the way forward. Sessions are 50 minutes long and take place at the same time and day each week. The length of therapy varies between each child and can be as brief as 10 sessions or up to a year or longer.
One of my central objectives for each child in therapy is to enhance the child’s awareness of his/her own process in the present moment. ‘Process’ can be defined as who they are, what emotions they reveal, what they like and do not like, what their needs are, what behaviour they reveal and how they reveal this. Through raising this awareness in the here and now, each child will be able to get back into contact with his/her own emotions, body, and natural ability to cope with life. The child can discover that choices regarding emotional expression and needs satisfaction can be made. In this way, the child learns to be self-supporting by taking responsibility for him/herself.
I strongly believe in the role of the family in a child’s healing process. A child’s so-called ‘problem’ behaviour is very often a symptom or reflection of what is going on in the family and therefore forms part of the social context of the family. In most families the dynamics between family members are complex. It is therefore extremely important to establish a working alliance between all members of the child’s family so that the child can have the optimum in a support structure. When everyone in the family works together, healing is much faster and stronger.