When Sophia*, a five-year-old girl, first came to see me, she was very quiet and hid behind her mother, letting her do all the talking. After getting a little history from her mother, I learned she did not have many friends at school and often avoided going, claiming stomach aches and other ailments.
I needed to earn her trust before delving into these difficulties which were painful for her.
During our first couple of sessions, we role-played challenges that “other” kids might face, such as worrying about who to play with on the playground and working with classmates. Indirectly, we spoke about these situations, but I did not address her recent challenges yet.
Little by little, I gained her trust, and she started to answer my questions as they came up through play. Themes arose, such as fear of humiliation and stage fright. As she spoke more and more, in her own way, without realizing it, she became much more communicative.
Now she was ready for the next steps. I helped Sophia learn the language of anxiety, including fears and worries. A breakthrough happened when she was able to apply them to herself and understand how they were holding her back. After she owned her feelings, we could figure out how to manage these strong emotions and share how she felt with her parents.
We also spoke about the differences between being a leader and a follower, and how she could do both in different situations.
Most importantly, she learned to be a problem-solver, owned the challenges she experienced instead of running away from them, and practiced implementing the techniques she learned outside of our sessions together. This all became possible because of child therapy.
Character development, imaginative or pretend play, storytelling, or drawing are great ways to give your child distance from their feelings and helps them share in a positive way.