Psychotherapy contains a variety of techniques and methods used to help children and adolescents who are experiencing difficulties with their emotions or behavior. Although there are several types of psychotherapy, each relies on communication 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, or the entire family.. In children and adolescents, playing, drawing, building, and pretending, as well as talking, are important ways of sharing feelings and resolving problems.
As part of the initial assessment, a qualified mental health professional will determine the need for psychotherapy. This decision will be based on such things as the child’s current level of discomfort, problems, history, level of development, ability to cooperate with treatment, and what interventions are most likely to help with the presenting concerns. Psychotherapy is often used in combination with other treatments (medication, behavior management, or work with the school). The relationship that develops between the therapist and the patient is very important. The child or adolescent must feel comfortable, safe and understood. This type of trusting environment makes it much easier for the child to express his or her thoughts and feelings, and to use therapy in a helpful way.
Psychotherapy can help children and adolescents in a variety of ways. They receive emotional support, resolve conflicts with people, understand feelings and problems, and try out new solutions to old problems. Goals for therapy may be specific (improved relations with friends or family, change in behavior), or more general (less anxiety, better self-esteem). The length of psychotherapy depends on the complexity and severity of problems.