~Returning to Joy and the Authentic Self~
Ultimately working with children is about listening to that which is so often unspoken. Children often express themselves best in their play. Tending the psyche of a child is sacred work which requires a special kind of attention to symbolism and non-verbal expression.
Healing with children involves building skills related to healthy forms of expression, true. It works best when parents are involved so that they are able to understand the changes and developmental leaps that their child is making. Often child therapy is a lot about helping the parents by introducing positive parenting strategies and increasing knowledge. Fostering a collaborative relationship with parents is important. A family system is most likely involved when working with children, so supporting the parents is critical. The more actively a parent practices positive parenting and healthy boundaries, the more likely their child will thrive, and overcome the challenges that brought them into therapy. Dr. McCrystal incorporates both non-directive and directive play therapy interventions when working with children.
Non-Directive Play Therapy: Playing helps children express details about their world symbolically. They come naturally to this form of expression. Often children feel a sense of relief, and a reduction in symptoms through the experience of being witnessed and contained in a play therapy session. When children are able to express the subconscious through non-directive play they are able to release tensions and anxieties. Dr. McCrystal includes sand play therapy, visualization, or expressive arts such as drawing and clay in her non-directive play therapy sessions.
Directive Play Therapy: Playing while learning tools directed to help identify thoughts, and regulate feelings and behaviors. Kiddos love to play and they often express relief of symptoms through learning to master their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Learning mastery of the body is essential in working with trauma for both adults and children. This is why mindfulness practices are so crucial. They help people experience control of their body, and they learn how to regulate their bodies when they are triggered, flooded with intense memory, or affective states. Acquiring cognitive tools such as thought stopping, and thought insertion can assist kiddos in monitoring their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In directive play therapy sessions Dr. McCrystal uses feeling identification tools, breathing techniques, and games to teach children skills toward helping them increase their ability calm their bodies and verbally express themselves. What was once overwhelming and confusing begins to feel manageable.