Therapy for Kids & Teenagers

Play and expressive therapy for children

It’s tough being a kid today

Children face a wide variety of stressors, pressure, and challenges. As a parent, it can be painful and overwhelming to see your child in distress. Therapy can provide a strong foundation of support to help your child overcome their difficulties so that they can thrive.

Can My Child Benefit from Therapy?

Children and teens often act out because they are distressed. Alternatively, they may turn inwards, becoming withdrawn.

As a parent, you may have a sense of what the problem is. It’s okay if you’re not quite sure, though. Through therapy, we can uncover the root cause of your child’s emotional and behavioral challenges.

We can work through those issues to support your youngster in positive development.

Children derive support from many sources including family, friends, and school. Therapy offers another layer of support that can help them work through deeper issues. Additionally, therapy helps give children the tools necessary to thrive in a challenging world.

Therapy Can Help Kids & Teens Through Many Challenges

Children and teens face so many different challenges in today’s society. They cope with the pressure to perform well in competitive schools. They face peer pressure, bullying, and the conflict over whether to conform or to express their own identity. Additionally, they are more exposed than ever before to global fears such as school shootings, the threat of climate change, and acceptance (or lack thereof) around diversity issues.

All of a child’s normal challenges are exacerbated in this highly connected, digital society where information comes at them quickly and persistently.

Common Issues for Kids and Teens

I can help your child in dealing with many different issues. Some of the common things that children and teens may struggle with include:

  • Coping with a loss including those related to divorce and death
  • Coping with everyday stress including school stress, performance anxiety, and procrastination
  • Difficulties with bullying whether the child is bullied or is bullying others
  • Emotional and/or behavioral problems (tantrums, aggression, acting out)
  • Failure to realize their full potential in school including school refusal
  • Living well with an illness, disability, and/or developmental disorder
  • Low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence
  • Mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and selective mutism
  • Overcoming past trauma including physical or sexual abuse and family violence
  • Problems with attention and concentration including ADHD
  • Relationship problems with family members and peers
  • Self-harming behavior

Play Therapy for Children and Adolescents

I specialize in play therapy and expressive therapy. This manifests in different ways depending on a child’s specific needs. Therapy with a child in kindergarten will naturally be different than therapy with a high schooler.

Play Therapy at Different Ages

Play therapy is a structured approach to therapy. It’s not just sitting down and playing with your children. Instead, it’s using a tool that they understand (play) to help them express themselves.

Oftentimes, children struggle with verbally articulating the underlying issues causing them distress. They use play as their language. I work with that to help them resolve their issues.

There are many different established techniques in play therapy. I will work to find what best helps your child.

A young child might play with dolls in a way that acts out the family or peer dynamics that are bothering them. In contrast, a teenager might use expressive arts such as drawing or poetry to work through similar challenges.

I meet the child where they are and use the language that they are most comfortable with in order to help them.

Additional Therapeutic Approaches

As a member of the Association for Play Therapy California, I specialize in play therapy. I have worked with children in a variety of different settings including schools and outpatient mental health clinics. Plus, I have training and experience in other types of therapy that complement play therapy.

I use a combination of approaches, including both directive and non-directive therapy. These choices depend on the child’s age, developmental stage, temperament, treatment goals, and specialized needs.

I have developed a customized approach that combines different therapies. For example, I may use techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Child-Centered Therapy, and Trauma-Informed Therapy. I draw upon all of these established ways of helping children so that I can offer the best possible support to each individual child based on their unique needs.

Therapy Provides Your Child with Important Skills

As a therapist, I provide your child with support as well as tools for a better life. Adolescents, in particular, are in need of a non-judgmental, open-minded, respectful adult to help them problem solve. They also need guidance.

I can help your child or teen to develop a variety of important skills that will aid them now and in the future.

These skills include:

  • Anger management including addressing anger’s underlying emotions
  • Coping skills for dealing with life’s challenges
  • How to understand, then regulate, their feelings and behavior
  • Improve self-expression and channel negative feelings in positive ways
  • Organizational tools
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Relaxation techniques including counting and taking deep breaths, and progressive muscle relaxation exercises
  • Self-soothing in order to calm down, feel better, and self-regulate
  • Setting realistic goals, working to achieve them, and conquering fears that interfere with goal attainment
  • Social skills including making friends, negotiating with peers, and showing relational empathy

Children, and particularly teens, can learn to better understand how their thoughts, feelings, and actions are all related to one another. They can begin to grasp why they feel bad and how to address those feelings in productive ways rather than acting out.

We all want to see our children thrive in this world.

We also understand that it’s a complicated world that presents many challenges to that thriving. Through therapy, your child can learn to navigate those tricky waters. As a result, their emotions will become manageable and their behavior will improve.