“Therapy” can be considered a “bad word” when said to a child who has been in the foster care system. Often, they feel as if they have been forced to endure years of therapeutic intervention without being able to identify any positive results.
As adults we know that therapy can be very helpful for a child who has experienced abuse and neglect. It is very important that parents seek therapy that is a good match for the personality of their child. Children respond differently to various approaches and it is important to think beyond – convenience, appointment times and insurance carriers to find the therapeutic fit that is most appropriate for your child.
This type of therapy is most commonly used with young children who have difficulties expressing their feelings. However, it can be used with other groups as well. Trained therapists (RPT/RPTS) use different mechanisms of play such as games, dolls, toys and pretending combined to communicate with the child. Play therapy may be done with or without parent involvement. Play therapy can be helpful for treating children with a history of - abuse/neglect, aggression, acting out, attachment difficulties, emotional instability, enuresis, encopresis and various other diagnoses.
Art therapy is used very similarly and sometimes in conjunction with play therapy. This type of therapy is appropriate for children as well as adults. It can help children express feelings about their current situation, enhance cognitive abilities and increase self awareness. Art therapy can be beneficial for children who have suffered a traumatic history.
Individual psychotherapy is when a therapist works one-on-one to help the child identify and express their feelings. They then help them to identify effective ways to work through their feelings. It is important to find a psychotherapist who has experience working with children who have a history of neglect and abuse. Ideally, a psychotherapist who has worked with children in the foster care system would be identified.
Attachment therapy is recommended for many families who have adopted an older child. These children can often have difficulty forming healthy attachments to caregivers due to their traumatic history and transient living circumstances. Attachment therapy focuses on building a safe and secure emotional attachment between parent and child. Usually at least one (or both) parents are asked to participate in this type of therapy.
Biofeedback therapy is a technique using electronic monitoring that trains people to control bodily processes that typically happen involuntarily. Biofeedback therapy can be helpful in treating children with anxiety, autism, enuresis, depression, learning disabilities as well as many other health problems.
We encourage you to interview your child’s potential therapist before beginning sessions. Find out what therapeutic model he or she utilizes and learn about their history of working with children with an abuse/neglect history. Most importantly, make sure that you can connect with your child’s therapist. This is a relationship built on trust. You have to have confidence in your child’s therapist in order for treatment to be successful.