Alright so you're here because you're searching for a therapist for your child or a child you know. You probably already know that finding a therapist with openings in Tri-Cities, let alone a therapist that accepts children, seems nearly impossible. Some want doctor referrals... which have you tried to make a doctor's appointment lately? ...Some are booking into next year! Others put you on a several month waitlist. Some therapists will only see your child once a month.
Alright, so the biggest issue that I have run into isn't that therapists have ridiculous waitlists. It's that the therapists with openings, might accept your child as a client even if they don't specialize in the treatment of young children. Why is this a problem? Let me tell you.
1. They Don't Have the Training!
Most therapists/counselors have very little training in effective therapy for children and teens.
A majority of graduate programs where our therapists and counselors come from, focus on the treatment of adults and couples. So, where do they learn how to provide treatment for children and teens? Well, you need to ask! My background (pre-therapist life) is in Early Childhood Education. I have always had the passion to work with children. So while I had the foundation in Child Development, post graduate school I had to attend many, many, MANY awesome trainings in Play Therapy. I am also a member of the National Association for Play Therapy.
2. Brain Science.
Yup, who knew you needed to know neurobiology to be a parent! So I am going to get a little science-y on you for a moment but stick with me. During a trauma or difficult life event, our brain experiences those moments within the mid-brain and limbic system (where emotions come from). The frontal lobe (responsible for problem solving) is cut out. In addition, the Brocca (responsible for speech) is also not at a high level of functioning. Ok, so what does this really mean? When life gets tough, when we experience a trauma, we are storing that in our RIGHT brain. Sending your child to an adult therapist that does "talk therapy", is attempting to heal and process an experience from the LEFT brain. For children, not only can this be incredibly difficult, it may even be IMPOSSIBLE for a child to verbally process these experiences.
3. Play is a child's natural language.
When adults say "I need to talk through this problem", the child version is, "I need to PLAY through this problem". How can we expect that a child even has the vocabulary to "talk through" some of the things they have been through? We can't expect that... and that is why it is crucial to remember that play is the natural way children communicate. Children work through problems, build confidence, play out social scenarios, etc all through Play Therapy!
Alright, so now that you know you why its crucial to find a therapist that specifically specializes in Mental Health for Children...How do you weed out the ones that don't?
Try asking these questions over the phone:
-What populations do you specialize in?
-Do you specialize in the treatment of children?
-Are you a member of the Washington Association of Play Therapy?
-What kind of approach do you use with young children in the therapy room?
Also, if their office has NO toys... Major red flag! I'm not talking about board games, parents. When I say "toys" I am talking about a dollhouse, dolls, figurines, a tea set, dress up, etc. "Free play" type toys. You want your child to have access to these objects during therapy to be the most effective! Play is a child's language, and toys are their tools.
Well, with all that said, hopefully you don't have to look any farther! I am a therapist in Tri-Cities that specializes in the treatment of children and teens. My hobby is collecting toys for my ever-growing play therapy collection, I have spent almost every birthday weekend the past 4 years at Play Therapy trainings (and LOVED it!), and guess what!
I have immediate openings.
No doctor's referral necessary.
Give me a call today so we can get started!