The counseling session between two adults looks very different when a child is involved. Children often are encouraged into therapy from a parent or teacher. They tend to be more hesitant and stand offish about the process. They also may struggle more with sharing secrets and feelings with a stranger. Counseling children requires different techniques and therapy methods. The main goal is to develop a relationship with the child that encourages trust and openness.
Notice of privacy
Some children may be hesitant to open up with their counselor because they worry that everything they say will be shared with their parent. When working in a therapeutic relationship with children, privacy boundaries need to be established. The first session should always include the parent. Sometimes, it can even be helpful to meet with the parent alone. Establish privacy areas. Notify the parent of the types of things you will share with them, and agree on things can remain unshared. This is an important conversation as it allows you to ethically and legally hold the trust of the child.
Once the initial meeting with the parent is completed and privacy issues are established, inform the child of these rules. Let them know the types of things you will share with the parent, usually concerns of self or other person harm. Also, inform them of things that will stay private in the room, unless the child decides to share them with the parent. This can help to increase the trust and aid in the therapeutic relationship.
Have a room full of toys
Children are used to being surrounded by toys. When you put them into a closed off room with a stranger, without any familiar toys, they are more likely to be scared and anxious. Instead, fill your child therapy room with many types of play therapy toys, like Totika items and sand play items. Not only will these child play therapy toys and Totika items make them feel more at home, but they can also be used as a therapeutic tool.
For about 70 years, play therapy has been a means to help children communicate without words. Children take longer to develop words and meanings and depending on their age, they may not know how to communicate their feelings with you effectively. The importance of child therapy products is that they allow the child to communicate in the way they know best. Pay attention to trends in games and toys. Pay attention to how the child handles the toys. Pay attention to how the child communicates with the toys. These can all be important therapeutic conversation starters.
Engage in games with the child
Children are used to playing games with their friends, classmates, and parents. When you offer to play a game with them, they are more likely to accept than to just begin a conversation out of nowhere. Therapy games bring up real world situations and encourage the child to talk about emotions, fears, and the people in their life in a non threatening way. By the time children turn 6, they will have spent about 15,000 hours playing. Playing is familiar to them and it can be a great way to open up difficult conversations.
Allow private children to color
Some children may not yet be comfortable enough to play games, like Totika with you. If you have a quiet child, allow them to color on their own. Allow them to be silent for a while, if they desire. When they are finished with drawing, you can discuss the artwork with them. Eventually, you may be able to request specific drawings, drawings that will give you more insight into their family and their feelings. You can also identify things about the child?s personality with the colors they choose, the types of things they draw, and any frequencies between pictures.
Children between 12 and 17 years old have a one in 10 chance of having a serious mental health problem that impacts how they function at home or school. If you are concerned about your child?s mental health, consider involving them in child counseling. The Totika games and play therapy will help them work through any strong emotions they are experiencing.