Therapy for Children

Therapy for Children

Is your child struggling with stress, anxiety, depression or having difficulty regulating their emotions? Sometimes children struggle with scary memories, thoughts or nightmares. They may have difficulty expressing their feelings, have negative self talk or self-destructive thoughts. It’s important to look at the whole child, not just the symptoms! Mental health challenges in children and teens show up differently than in adults. Their behavior is their strongest form of communication! They can experience physical symptoms (stomach aches, headaches), behavioral problems (acting out, tantrums,  and rages) or learning difficulties (concentration and focus challenges).

Healing Hearts Counseling provides age appropriate therapy for children 5 years and older to help children and teenagers work through mixed-up thoughts and feelings that lead to difficult behaviors. We understand how to get to the root causes of unhealthy habits, uncomfortable feelings, mixed-up thoughts, and destructive behavioral patterns. We work with parents to create solutions that respect the uniqueness of each child and how they learn.

We also provide support, therapeutic help, and psycho-education for parents and families. Working with parents is a critical part of helping children grow and heal! We are committed to helping you develop new ways of responding, connecting and interacting with your child or teen, while maintaining the structure, consistency and predictability that help growing minds and hearts flourish and feel safe.

You have in your hands the delicate and complex work of shaping another human being. Being a parent is such a privilege but it also requires a great commitment and work. If you have a child with emotional or behavioral difficulties, the good news is that there is help and there are many therapeutic modalities that can help you and your child.

Play Therapy

Play therapists use the therapeutic power of play to help children prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth. Play therapy is a form of counseling that builds on developmentally appropriate forms of communication through play, enabling children to explore difficult experiences in a safe environment. It can be an effective treatment for children experiencing difficulty in identifying, communicating, and regulating their emotions.

 

Sand Tray Therapy

Children often do not have the “words” to describe how they are feeling or the impact of what they have experienced. The sand tray allows the images from the right side of the brain (emotional) to move to the left side (language) and help a child integrate and process their experiences. Symbols and miniatures can be helpful to represent feelings and thoughts without words. By using miniatures, children build a “world” in the sand. It helps to miniaturize and externalize experiences, empowering them to “play” and explore what they need and to process their emotions. At the end of the session, the therapist can reflect on and discuss the underlying meaning behind the creation.

 

Expressive Art Therapy

Expressive Art is a medium that allows for healing that uses the arts as its basis for discovery and healing. All five disciplines of the arts: visual, dance/movement, music, drama/theater, and writing/poetry can give children a richer vocabulary to work, play and grow in healing, expression and wellness. Putting their feelings into a poem, song or painting gives children a safe outlet for negative emotions through an enjoyable activity, which accelerates the healing and growth process. But expressive arts aren't just for coping, they also have great effects on a child's normal development!

EMDR for Kids

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy approach developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro to help people heal from trauma or adversities such as issues of abuse, bullying, domestic violence, grief/loss, attachment wounds, abandonment, and many other complicated life issues. EMDR therapy is now validated as an evidence-based approach and included in SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. It has been adapted to be used for all ages.

When children have yucky things that happen to them, they have many mixed-up feelings and many mixed-up thoughts. They do not feel good in their minds, bodies, and hearts. These mixed up thoughts and feelings get in the way of the good feelings and thoughts. EMDR can help kids by unpacking them and getting rid of them so kids will have space for the good feelings and the good thoughts. Ana Gomez came up with a cool name for EMDR for kids: Eyes Moving to Digest and Recover!!

When kids receive EMDR, one of the things they do is move their eyes from one side to another while they think about the yucky things that happened to them. EMDR therapists can also help kids do other things instead of eye movement. They can tap hands or knees back and forth or they can use sounds or music that move from one ear to the other.

When yucky things happen, the brain has a hard time putting all the pieces together and as a result, things that people say or do or things that kids see, hear, smell or touch can bring up the yucky memories, the mixed-up thoughts, feelings and body feelings connected to those yucky things. EMDR helps the brain put all the pieces together so the yucky stuff can leave us and the good stuff or the things we learned from it can stay so we get stronger. Then, the brain can chew up and digest all the mixed-up feelings and thoughts as well as the yucky feelings we may have in the body.