Therapy with children and adolescents incorporates playful approaches. These approaches differ depending on the age and interests of the child or adolescents. Play is the language of children and oftentimes gives the child a way to communicate when words are not enough.
As a systemically-oriented therapist, I believe that all aspects of our lives are co-created through conversations, communication, and language with other people. Each member of a system (e.g. a family) affects the other members of the system. I am interested in the meanings each person attributes to other members’ behavior and interactions. Therefore, my preference is to include as many members of the system as possible in the therapeutic process.
Very often when children or adolescents are brought to therapy, they have been classified as the problem by their family, friends, teachers, or even themselves. It is important for me to establish that a person is not the problem. The problem is the problem. This may seem obvious, but something as simple as the language used to describe someone’s struggles can place the problem either inside the person, making the person the problem, or outside the person, making the problem the problem. This is the difference between saying, “he is ADHD” and “he struggles with ADHD” or “ADHD affects him.” If the problem is inside the person, or internalized, it is part of the person’s identity, and is assumed to be a fixed part of that person.
I have a strong belief that everyone is the expert of their own life, including children and adolescents. Children solve problems all the time, and through genuine curiosity, my role is to help the child elicit their own strengths, and problem solving abilities.