The natural communication medium for children is play. Therefore, to meet children where they are at developmentally, play therapy is the best modality to create growth and change. Through play, a child is able to show us not only their internal social-emotional world, but also how they go about interacting with the external social-emotional world. We can take a look at what is working for them and what is challenging for them. By taking abstract concepts, such as anxiety, anger, social skills, emotional regulation, grief and loss, etc., and making them concrete, we have something tangible that children can understand and work through in the moment. In addition to being healthy for children, play is motivating for children! Please check out the Association for Play Therapy website for a fuller understanding of what Play Therapy is.
Animal Assisted Play Therapy
Incorporating and allowing an animal to assist in the play therapy process gives us the new field of Animal-Assisted Play Therapy. In Balance Studio utilizes dogs, specifically Baxter or Sarah, in the play therapy process to assist in facilitating growth and change. For example, we may set up an obstacle course for Baxter to complete or teach Sarah a new trick. In the process, we may have to problem-solve, use flexible thinking, learn to communicate effectively with the canine, collaborate, and use many other possible skills. Activities are chosen with the child’s goals in mind and are meant to give the child practice on working through challenges in the moment. Jamie is certified and trained by the International Association for Animal-Assisted Play Therapy, please visit their site for more information.
Social-Emotional Thinking Skills
Activities are designed and created to help children and teens further develop their social competencies in a dynamic and interactive environment. Combining Play Therapy/Animal Assisted Play Therapy with Social Thinking methodologies, concepts, and clinical trainings creates a win-win for social-emotional skill acquisition and fun. Concepts taught may include: self-awareness, joint attention, perspective-taking, problem-solving, emotional regulation, collaboration, and effective communication skills for school, home and community. To learn more about the Social Thinking methodologies and concepts, please visit Social Thinking.
Emotional Freedom Techniques, also known as EFT or “Tapping” combines energy therapy with modern day “talk” psychology. A technique where East meets West, tapping involves utilizing your fingertips to tap on specific meridian endpoints on your face, head, and body while repeating out loud phrases that represent the “thing” that is bothering you or creating distress for you. Tapping is proving to be a powerful and easy to use technique for resolving and/or alleviating trauma, anxiety, fears, phobias, anger, limiting beliefs, and other physical or emotional symptoms. For more information on tapping, check out the organization that provided my training and introduced me to EFT.
Emotional Freedom Technique
Reiki is an energy-based technique used for relaxation, stress reduction, promotion of healing and restoration of balance to one’s body and energy system. Everything is made of energy and Reiki works with the energy that exists inside and outside of our bodies. Some energies we can see like images and colors, others we can hear such as sound and music, and there are energies we can see the end result of, for example microwaves or UV waves. Energy waves even help us communicate through cell phones and computers. With anxiety being diagnosed at an all-time high in children, Reiki is a nice supplement to traditional therapies. In Jamie’s experience, Reiki is proving to help children feel more balanced and is facilitating the creation of calm minds, calm bodies, and positive connections. Furthermore, if you are lucky, Baxter or Sarah just might hop up on the table with you…they both love Reiki too! For more details on this technique, please contact us or check out the International Association of Reiki Professionals.