Very few life experiences can compare to the gift of parenthood. As gratifying as being a parent can be, however, it also comes with tough challenges at times. Even the seemingly most well-adjusted families can find themselves facing considerable dilemmas. Parenting concerns can occur at any stage of a child or adolescent's life. Single parents especially can feel overwhelmed, particularly if their child(ren)'s behavior has become difficult to manage. During times of significant stress it can be most beneficial for a parent or caregiver to reach out for assistance, although they do not always know where to turn.
Stress can cloud our ability to think objectively and, wanting the best for our children, we become confused as to which direction to take. What we usually do suddenly becomes less effective or we are faced with a whole new set of challenges that we have never had to cope with before. I am here to help you navigate through the obstacle course of parenthood, regardless of whether the challenges are newfound or chronic.
I began my post-graduate career in 2005 working with children and families and have found this area of therapeutic intervention to be rewarding. Of more importance than this, however, is that I have a first-hand understanding of the difficulties you may be facing, having been a single parent over a number of years. One of the most effective treatment approaches for behavior modification is a rewards-based system that, when implemented appropriately, can be gratifying for both children and parents.
Even so, I have encountered a good proportion of skepticism from weary parents who may have tried some form of a reward-based system in the past that either did not meet their expectations or that lost its effectiveness. Parents can sometimes feel defeated or like failures, even though they are not fully in control of their child's responses or behaviors.
Although there are various reasons why a rewards-based system may not be successful, one common occurrence is that it has not been exclusively adapted to the child's individual needs. Another is that the child has not had the opportunity to be involved in the process or the parent/child relationship is strained to the point that both the child(ren) and the parent(s) lack the level of motivation necessary to implement and continue a plan of action in a consistent manner. Although this form of intervention has the ability to facilitate fairly rapid results, the particularly strong-willed child will often test limits, or the behavior patterns will seem to worsen at least temporarily prior to improvement. I can assist you in formulating and implementing a plan that will involve the family as a whole and one that will encourage the strengthening of the parent/child relationship.
Even if your child is not displaying explicit behavior difficulties but you still have concerns because he/she may be depressed or suffers from an anxiety disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other condition that limits everyday functioning, then an individualized treatment plan can be developed for your child, which may include play therapy sessions.
WHAT IS PLAY THERAPY?
Play therapy is a therapeutic process designed for children and sometimes adolescents or adults with the same treatment objectives as talk therapy. Since children generally do not express their problems and feelings in the same verbal manner as adults, they often use toys as their words and forms of expression. Just as adults can also have a difficult time processing experiences and need to feel safe/secure in order for this to take place, play therapy provides the child with a natural, safe environment. Sometimes parents are tempted to give up on this form of intervention because they are not seeing immediate results. However, would anyone expect an adult who is working through trauma or depression or other emotional difficulties to recover completely in just a few short weeks?
WHAT IS PARENT/CHILD PLAY THERAPY?
My view is that the parent(s) or caretakers will ultimately be the primary change agents in a child's life—most particularly during the developmental, formative years. A therapist can provide good support and assistance in facilitating the healing process or teaching new patterns of behavior but a therapist will generally not be a lifelong influence and will not be present in the child's life each day, year round.
Regarding therapy, this does not imply that parents are always to blame for their child's behaviors but rather that parents can truly make a difference in the therapeutic process.
In this form of therapy the parent will learn basic listening and reflecting skills while the child engages in play. The objective is for the parent to practice these basic and simple skills with the therapist and then continue to have this special time with the child between sessions or following the termination of therapy. It benefits both the child and parent and is a great way to enhance and strengthen their relationship. Please note that parent/child play therapy is a child-centered form of treatment and does not involve more complex forms of play therapy, such as therapist-directed sessions that target specific behaviors or emotions.