By: Panicha Sillapawatayanon, M.A.
Play is an important part of childhood. Play helps children develop cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally. Children who play have healthy brain development. It’s through play that children learn to explore the world around them and start mastering challenges. And above all else, play is enjoyable!
Undirected play, or free play, gives children opportunities to learn new skills while moving at their own pace. Free play allows children to use their creativity, develop their imagination, and encourages them to learn how to share with their peers and resolve their conflicts. Additionally, free play helps keep them active through physical activity! However, parent involvement is always encouraged! Parents who play with their children build relationships with them that are loving and engaging. Even when parents simply watch their children play they are able to take a peek into their children’s world. Parent supervision is needed when children are playing outside too. It’s important to note that true free play isn’t passive play such as video games, watching tv, or playing on the iPad.
Some examples of free play include:
Overscheduled children have less high-quality family time and are unable to receive the benefits of free play that would help protect them against the effects of stress. Ultimately, every family is different so parents can decide on the appropriate amount of scheduled activities that suit their family. But in my experience, many parents feel as though they can’t slow down or their children will fall behind. Some also worry that they won’t be good parents if they don’t match up to what the other parents are doing. Consider finding a good balance for your family between living (playing) in the moment and preparing for their future. Every child has different needs, so it’s likely that your family’s balance will look different from others.
What if my children are bored?
It seems that in our culture, we’re used to moving at a quick pace. We’re always looking for “what to do next?”. Children need to grow comfortable with silence and become bored sometimes. Feeling bored is a great opportunity for them to develop creativity! Avoid filling their free time with screen entertainment, and you’ll see how imaginative and creative they can become. It’s okay to say no to your children instead of feeling you have to go the extra mile or they will suffer or be deprived. Children will have plenty of time to be stressed and overscheduled as adults!
If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy, please reach out to them by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
As a parent who has made the decision to bring your child or teen to therapy, you most likely will have lots of questions about the process of therapy itself. This is so understandable as often, therapy takes place behind closed doors and parents may not realize that they are entitled to ask as many questions about what is happening as they would like!
At Thrive, we all practice slightly differently so I will try to outline the different possibilities of what to expect but I would like to emphasize that all of our therapists will answer your questions about the process of therapy. All questions are okay with us as we want parents to feel informed, involved, and comfortable!
Usually, at the very first appointment, I personally prefer to meet with parents alone so that we can talk very freely about what is going on with the child or teen and family system. At this appointment, we will talk about family history, your child/teen’s developmental history, current concerns, past treatments, and generally I am trying to get a feel for what is going on in the situation so that I can also make recommendations and give you some guidance as to what therapy will look like for your family/teen/child. At this appointment, I will usually describe what I think the best path forward will be, similar to what some may call a more formal treatment plan. I will also encourage parent questions as I want to make sure from the beginning that we are all on the same page.
Next, I will plan on meeting with the child or teen alone for the next appointment so that we can start getting to know each other and building our relationship. In that appointment, we are mostly just getting acquainted. With younger kids, this will likely involve playing games or with toys in our play therapy space while I ask them questions and get a feel for their personality and what strategies might work best to help them. With older kids, this will likely involve more of talking and asking questions, as it would for an adult. Generally, I am assessing the child or teen’s openness to work on the challenges they are experiencing so that I can do what is called “meeting them where they are at.” This is therapy speak for not pushing a client too fast or too far when they are not ready. We try to assess where a client is in the process of making changes and meet them there. As time goes on, we then will push and challenge a bit more as we feel we have a strong relationship with that client.
Throughout the process of therapy, we will use lots of different strategies in session. I usually like to meet with parents periodically, at times separately from the child/teen, so that we can talk about how things are progressing and share more about how parents can support their child/teen as well as make sure that parents continue to feel involved and informed as to the process of therapy. I hear from parents at times that in the past, the therapists that they have taken their kids to did not share anything with them during treatment. That is not something I typically support (except in very particular situations, which I always talk to parents about as soon as possible) because parents can give us a lot of helpful feedback and are an important part of the process.
So, at Thrive, we involve parents in treatment as the rule, rather than the exception to the rule! In fact, some of our clinicians will involve parents to check in before or after session or involve them in joint sessions with their child or teen. A few of our clinicians will involve parents and children together in the initial appointment and use more of a free flowing method to treatment where sometimes the child or teen is in session, sometimes the parent, and sometimes both. This flexibility works so well for some of our families that I am honored to have clinicians who work in this way!
As you can tell, the most important thing is for parents to ask questions and make sure that they are on the same page with their therapist. Therapy works well when the whole family and therapist are on the same page as to what the goals are and how we are accomplishing them. When trying to find a therapist for your child/teen/family, please make sure to ask questions to understand that therapist’s process and make sure you feel that it is a good fit!
At Thrive, we are fortunate to have a variety of therapists who I am confidence will be able to meet most families’ needs! If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy with one of us, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
If you would like to receive updated information about Thrive Therapy, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter through the following link: http://eepurl.com/cvGx5n.
By Lindsey Brady, LMFT
The most basic building block of therapy is communication- our ability to talk with each other. So what does that mean for our kids? Children haven’t naturally developed the language to tell us what they have experienced, what they are feeling, or what they need. This is where play interventions come in. Play is a child’s natural language and Sandplay is an intervention that allows children to let us into their inner world without words.
Sandplay begins with a basic tray of either wet or dry sand that can be sculpted into a scene. The child then selects figures or items to place into the tray to create a scene. Objects selected will often show personal and archetypal meaning. The relationships between objects can provide us with insight into the child’s psyche and allow the child a safe space for expression which can often lead to more balance and wholeness for the child.
I will never forget my first experience with Sandplay. A friend of mine was leading a training for psychotherapists and requested that I put together a tray for her to present. I didn’t know what to expect and randomly placed items into the tray. During the meeting, she pulled out the tray and began to discuss interpretations and symbols. I was shocked at what it revealed. So many things were going on in my life at the moment that were so vivid in the tray, but I had no idea! That was when I wanted to learn more about how to incorporate this intervention into my therapy sessions. I took several other trainings and began my practice. I am still regularly stunned by the ability of this intervention to reveal our inner world so clearly. In my first Sandplay session with a child, the scene in the sand will most often be chaotic. Over time, the scenes begin to make more sense and have more structure as the child’s unconscious thoughts and feelings become integrated. It is really such an incredible process. Sandplay can also be used with adults, and can allow access to things within our minds that are below our level of consciousness.
If you’d like to know more about Sandplay or interventions for children, you can contact Lindsey at email@example.com or 619-681-4330. Check out her bio here for more information!
We at Thrive hope you enjoyed reading Lindsey's first blog for Thrive! If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about your child or teen attending therapy with one of us, please reach out to us either via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 858-342-1304.
If you would like to receive updated information about Thrive Therapy Studio, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter through the following link: http://eepurl.com/cvGx5n
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child, teen psychotherapy and adult psychotherapy with San Diego Psychologists at Thrive Therapy Studio.
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"Watch your thoughts,
They become words.
Watch your words,
They become actions.
Watch your actions,
They become habits.
Watch your habits,
They become character;
It becomes your destiny."