Children, like adults, can suffer from anxiety. In some cases, children and their families can manage normal childhood fears and stress on their own. For others, anxiety can become a debilitating condition that impacts school, relationships with other children, emotional development, and even the entire family system. Fortunately, there is a specific type of therapy just for children called Play Therapy that is proven to benefit children suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues. At Katy Counseling our team of therapists are experts in the application of Play Therapy to treat anxiety as well as other childhood issues.
There are many types of Anxiety children may have that are commonly treated in Play Therapy:
- Social Anxiety
- Separation Anxiety
- Obsessive Compulsive Anxiety (fear of death, illness, vomiting, using the bathroom/toileting)
- Generalized Anxiety
- Hair pulling (Trichotillomania) and Skin Picking (Dermatillomania)
How Can Play Therapy Help a Child in Therapy?
A Safe Place
Play Therapy provides a safe space for children to process their emotions in a developmentally appropriate way. Most children do not yet have the emotional vocabulary to identify and express their emotions verbally. Even adults sometimes have difficulty with this! Children can, however, use toys, games, puppets, and art to explore and communicate their fears and worries. The act of playing out their emotions helps them better understand their feelings and makes them more concrete.
Educate Children About Anxiety
Play therapy educates children on anxiety and the symptoms it creates. Through art, games, and stories a play therapist can help anxious children identify their anxiety and the way it affects their emotions and behaviors. They may also help children to realize this is anxiety and that they are not “bad” or a “problem”, but rather help them see their “worry” as something outside of themselves.
Learn Coping Skills
Play therapy helps children learn coping skills! A trained play therapist can use the playroom and equipment to teach relaxation techniques such as belly breathing and progressive muscle relaxation in playful and engaging ways. Children can practice role-playing positive statements and problem-solve real-life situations through play experiences. They also learn critical decision-making skills in a safe environment to make mistakes.
Increase Self-Esteem and Confidence
Play therapy increases self-esteem and confidence. Anxiety can cause already vulnerable children to feel powerless and out of control or like there is something wrong with them. Additionally, behaviors resulting from anxiety can cause embarrassment and shame. Confronting fears and learning new skills in play therapy provide a sense of mastery, confidence, and power that enhances self-esteem and encourages a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Emotional Regulation and Distress Tolerance
Play therapy facilitates emotional regulation and distress tolerance. Anxiety can cause a lot of difficulties in handling emotions and lead to behaviors such as outbursts, meltdowns, intense avoidance, or shutting down. Having a safe and developmentally appropriate place to explore emotions, learn new skills, and practice new effective behaviors helps children improve their ability to handle stressful situations.
Play Therapy Modalities
There are several different types of play therapy available for children much like there are for adults.
Some of the different types include:
- Child-Centered Play Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy
- Reality Play Therapy
- Adlerian Play Therapy
Each of these modalities can help with various mental health concerns including anxiety.
Common Symptoms of Anxiety in Children:
- Regression of toileting or bedwetting
- School avoidance or other avoidance behaviors
- Difficulty with transitions or changes
- Changes in school performance
- Physical symptoms such as stomach aches, muscle pains, headaches
- Excessive worry about everyday things
- Excessive self-doubt
- Panic attacks
- Refusal to eat or excessively picky eating out of fear of vomiting or getting sick
Begin Play Therapy in Katy, TX Today and Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety
Not all children exhibit the same symptoms of anxiety. If you think your child may have anxiety, seek a qualified mental health professional who treats children, such as a play therapist for a full assessment and treatment. Play therapy can help your child learn new skills, overcome their fears and thrive again!
Want more information about Play Therapy and how it can help your Child? Visit the Parents Corner at The Association for Play Therapy (a4pt.org). Or follow the steps below to connect with us at Katy Counseling:
- Learn more about our team here.
- Fill out our convenient online contact form for more information.
- Begin the journey to making your family whole.
Other Mental Health Services Offered At Katy Counseling
In addition to offering Play Therapy, we also offer a wide range of services for adults, teens, and children. These services include Teen Counseling, Adult Counseling, Couples Counseling, Trauma Counseling, Women’s Issues, and Lens Neurofeedback. Our goal is to meet you where you are and help guide you through the issues you are facing in a positive and supportive way.