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Child Counseling & Play Therapy

When is child/play therapy needed?

Children have unique personalities and sometimes it can be hard to tease out if your child is simply expressing their uniqueness or if they would benefit from therapy (likely both). There are many reasons to bring a child into therapy. You may notice that your child is having difficulty managing their emotions, being physically aggressive, or reporting that their stomach hurts frequently. Maybe your child seems really sad most of the time or anxiously picks at their skin. Although many children adjust well, there are certain circumstances that may encourage someone to take their child to therapy. For example, a divorce, a big move, or a death in the family. You know your child best and if you notice a shift in them, maybe it is time to seek help.

WHAT WILL MY CHILD DO IN THERAPY?

This will be different for every child and depends on what they like to do, and what they’re struggling with. Usually, kids report that coming to therapy is fun. Sometimes they’ll learn new skills and will want to teach them to you! We use all sorts of activities, games, art projects, books, and other fun things to help your child learn how to identify their feelings, how to manage them appropriately, how to navigate setting good boundaries with others, and how to cope when things are difficult. They probably won’t know it, but they’ll come away from therapy with some serious life skills!

HOW SHOULD I EXPLAIN THERAPY TO MY CHILD?

This sounds like big scary, but can be quite simple. Therapists are just new people to talk and play with. Usually, parents feel comfortable telling their younger child/children, “We are going to meet someone new! Someone that we will come and see for a while, who will play games with you and talk to you, and help you learn new things! This time is all for you!”
For older kids or adolescents, it may sound more like, “I know things have been hard lately. I’m planning for both of us to go together and meet someone who can help us sort all this out.”

It’s usually helpful when they know you’ll be there with them, at least for the first while!

WHAT WILL HAPPEN DURING OUR FIRST SESSION?

Typically, first sessions are held just with parents and the therapist. This allows us to better get to know you and your family, and what it is you hope to get out of therapy for your child.

You’ll come to our office on Ada Drive, between Nonna’s Pantry and Godwin Ada Hardware, behind Thornapple Cabinetry and hang out in the (super comfy) waiting room until your therapist comes out to get you. You’ll fill out some paperwork, learn about our policies, there will be lots of questions (don’t worry, they’re not too scary!), and we will set some goals for your little one.

HOW WILL WE KNOW WHEN WE’RE DONE?

In the beginning of therapy for your child, we will work with you (and your kiddo if they’re old enough) to set some goals for their time in therapy. Usually, these goals are something like “I want to be able to go to sleepovers with my friends without feeling panicked at night,” or “I hope she can go all day at school without calling home because her stomach hurts.”

Once we have worked together and have accomplished your goals, that’s when we know we’re done!  Child therapy is NOT forever.