Children face emotional challenges in life, much in the same way as adults, but because they have not fully developed, many children are unable to talk about what they feel. The younger the child the more limited their ability to use words to process their emotions and make sense of things that have happened. Instead, children use the language of symbols while they play to understand what they feel, think, and how to relate to the world in which they live. Lighthouse specializes in play and expressive therapy in a warm, safe environment where children can process, integrate and release emotions, memories, and traumas that may be creating difficulty in their lives.
Play therapy for children is an appropriate treatment for all challenges and difficulties because the focus in therapy is always on the whole person of the child as opposed to their behaviour or difficulty. This style of expressive therapy is a process of connecting to one's true self and becoming. Research and experience show that this treatment has been successful with concerns such as:
anxiety and worries
withdrawal, sadness, depression
aggression, acting out
difficulties with impulse control
tantrums, uncontrollable emotions
distractibility, school challenges, adhd
trauma (for example: car accidents, abuse, neglect, injury)
grief and loss
autism spectrum disorders
hard to diagnose challenging behaviour
Therapy in the playroom sometimes includes a child's parent(s) or caregivers and is used by the therapist to work on family relationships, increase attachment and bonding, and increase parents range of tools in working with their child.
The way that we often notice that children are experiencing difficulty is by changes in their behaviour and how well they manage their emotions. Most children do not have the ability to use words to explain but they are able communicate how they are feeling, what they have experienced and what is affecting them using the language of play. Through play, children make sense of past experiences, practice difficult current circumstances, and try out solutions for the future with toys and expressive activities. Play is the language of children and a play therapist is specially trained to work with children using the symbolic language of play.
The first stage of therapy includes building a connection that can grow into a safe trusting relationship between the therapist and the child. The relationship is the most important part of the therapeutic process. After the child feels more comfortable and safe with the therapist, and in the therapy space, they may engage in activities that are positive and ego-strengthening. This builds the child's sense of self-efficacy and the confidence necessary to explore difficult life experiences. Each child is different, needs different amounts of time and different combinations of the therapeutic elements. The therapist remains present with the child, follows their lead, guides them as needed, witnesses their experience, reflects their activity and emotions back to them, and maintains the safety and warmth in the playroom. When the child is ready, they have opportunity to use toys or creative activities to express their internal world. This allows an opportunity to process, transform, and release what may be contributing to the child's difficulties.
Therapy can be an important part of change and healing for a child but what is often more important is that child's relationship and interaction with the people closest to them, their family. The child's ability to heal and grow is increased when change also takes place among family members. The family may learn new ways of relating and new ways to communicate and respond to one another. Parents and siblings are often a powerful and important part of a child's therapeutic experience.
Lighthouse Child and Family Therapy Ltd. 212-750 Cottonwood Ae. Kamloops,BC 250.318.0652 firstname.lastname@example.org