"Psychotherapy refers to a variety of techniques and methods used to help children and adolescents who are experiencing difficulties with their emotions or behavior. Although there are different types of psychotherapy, each relies on communications as the basic tool for bringing about change in a person's feelings and behaviors. Psychotherapy may involve an individual child, a group of children, a family, or multiple families. In children and adolescents, playing, drawing, building, and pretending, as well as talking, are important ways of sharing feelings and resolving problems." American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry February 2005
Children are often brought to therapy following a significant life event or as a result of difficulties at home or at school. Unlike adolescent or adult treatment where a patient asks for help, in child therapy typically the family is asking for help. The way in which children see the problem is constantly evolving. As their brains develop their emotions and perceptions shift.
Children often feel that difficulties they are experiencing are due to outside forces. They don't always recognize their part in the problem. They may be defensive and reluctant to talk about what is going on in their lives because talking increases feelings of helplessness. The most important tool a family has when a child is in distress is their ability to listen with love.
Children need to feel they can express their point of view in a safe and protected space. Just getting a child to put words to their worries is part of the process of healing. Once a child feels heard and experiences their family members as allies it is much easier to address the problems head on.
The older the child the more capable they are of reason and self empowerment. Sometimes just feeling heard and understood is enough to bring about change. For more difficult problems exploring therapy as a resource is a step in the right direction.