Watch this short video to understand OUR approach and philosophy to treating Children:

The first step to successful treatment is a comprehensive and thorough assessment of functioning.  The assessment process can last 3-6 sessions. At the Initial Intake consultation we meet with parents/caregivers without children present, because we don't talk about kids in front of them! At this consultation we will review the following:

  • Current symptoms, concerns, duration and intensity

  • A thorough review of child development and past medical history

  • Review of family systems

  • Additional important family background information including history of mental health issues

  • Discuss any past treatment and evaluations

 

Part of the assessment process includes using evidence-based methods to gain perspective on the nature and intensity of your child's symptoms. The various assessment tools we choose from are listed below.

 

  • Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) from Theraplay Institute

  • NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessments for Teachers and Parents

  • Family Art, Family Sandtray Session

  • Beck Youth Inventory- Second Edition

  • Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), Parents and Teacher/Caregiver

  • Sentence completion

  • Conners 3rd Edition

  • Exploratory child centered play therapy session

  • Adult Attachment Inventory (AAI) for family of origin issues

  • Spence Anxiety Scale, Parent, Child Reports

  • SCARED (Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders)

  • Moods and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ)

  • UCLA PTSD Index, Parent Report

  • M-CHAT

 

 

 

 

Then the treatment goals are defined and the course of treatment is decided together with the caregivers.  Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in treatment because caregivers must reinforce learned coping skills, reduce triggers, and alter family dynamics that contribute to an imbalance of perceived security.  There is no healing without parent involvement!  Each child will have a unique treatment plan discussed in a parent feedback session once the assessment in complete.  There is no one size fits all approach to treatment, and each treatment road map may include a combination of the following:

  • Play therapy to assist child in expressing what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express thoughts and feelings.

  • Theraplay® to learn emotional attunement and regulation 

  • Family therapy including play to explore and/or challenge existing family dynamics 

  • Traditional "talk therapy" to create a space of unconditional acceptance

  • Mindfulness practices to learn the connection between mind and body 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy to replace negative thought patterns

  • Mindfulness training to learn grounding skills to cope with anxiety 

  • Sandtray therapy to allow child to develop sense of self and process concerns non-verbally

  • Bibliotherapy to help normalize child's concerns

  • Psycho-education with family to learn causes, symptoms, and treatment of diagnosis

  • Parenting support, coaching, and training

  • Sensory based structured interventions to promote awareness of mind-body connection in healing trauma

  • Expressive arts to promote self-expression and provide creative avenue to communicate

  • Medication pros and cons can be discussed and referred as needed

Treatment modalities are chosen to meet therapy goals and are based on individual needs, age of child(ren), and are continuously assessed throughout therapy.  Together we will discuss the type, length and intensity of treatment based on the child's needs.  Often times a combination of modalities are utilized throughout therapy.  Here is a list of the treatment modalities we utilize.  Please click on underlined text for more information. 

Thank you for considering us on your journey to helping your child and family. As attachment based therapists, we do believe that how the brain "comes online" from earliest experiences of life has a direct impact on current behaviors and functioning.  It is our commitment as therapists to help you discover the root cause of the behaviors that your child is struggling with. Only then can true healing happen! Whether it is behaviors that your child is struggling with, or having gone through an adverse experience, we will use a child's natural medium of play to meet our treatment goals. Another vital part of healing is parental involvement, and we will teach/coach/train you as parents and caregivers to be involved in the therapeutic process, show you how to reinforce skills at home, and teach you how to be emotionally attuned to your child's needs. 

CHILD/PLAY THERAPY

AREAS OF SPECIALTY

ASSESSMENT

PROCESS

TREATMENT METHODS

THERAPLAY®

Theraplay is a short-term, attachment-based intervention utilizing non-symbolic, interactional play to re-create experiences of secure attachment formation between parent and child. The interactive sequences are carefully structured by the therapist to make possible the pleasure of being together and shared enjoyment in the child´s mastery. These elements of shared positive emotions may be crucial in restructuring the attachment relationship towards greater organization and security. Theraplay’s Core Concepts consist of interaction, here and now experience, adult guidance, attunement, right brain language, multisensory experience, and playfulness as well as the Theraplay Dimensions of Structure, Engagement, Nurture and Challenge.  Theraplay is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding.

 

In treatment, the Theraplay therapist guides the parent and child through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent regulate the child’s behavior and communicate love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy. We call this “building relationships from the inside out.”

Theraplay has been accepted by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for inclusion on the National Registry for Evidence-based Programs and Practices.

 

PLAY THERAPY

"Toys are the child's words and play is the child's language" Gary Landreth

 

Child play therapy is a way of being with the child that honors their unique developmental level and looks for ways of helping in the “language” of the child – play.  Initially developed in the turn of the 20th century, today play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all applying the therapeutic benefits of play. Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.  

For more information on play therapy including research citations we invite you to read:

Answers to common questions by Nick Cornett, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, Registered Play Therapist at John Brown University.

 

More information about the value of Play Therapy. Play Therapy Works!

COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY

 

Cognitive therapy is the opposite of behavior therapy. Cognitive therapy focuses primarily on the thoughts and emotions that lead to certain behaviors, while behavioral therapy deals with changing and eliminating those unwanted behaviors. However, some therapists practice a type of psychotherapy that focuses on both thoughts and behavior. This type of treatment is called cognitive-behavior therapy.

Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) helps improve a child’s moods, anxiety and behavior by examining confused or distorted patterns of thinking. CBT therapists teach children that thoughts cause feelings and moods which can influence behavior. During CBT, a child learns to identify harmful thought patterns. The therapist then helps the child replace this thinking with thoughts that result in more appropriate feelings and behaviors.

For example, a child with depression has often developed automatic negative responses to life events. The child may call a friend to play and the child (named John) might say “I can’t play right now.” The child with adaptive thought patterns will say to himself “John can’t play right now. He must be busy. Maybe I should call a different friend and call him tomorrow.” The child with negative patterns of thinking and tendency toward depression may think “Johnny can’t play right now. He doesn’t like me anymore. No one likes me. I don’t have any friends.” Same life event, very different response. One goal of cognitive therapy is to help the child understand that he is interpreting the same life event in a very negative way due to assumptions that may not be true and that he is also generalizing the event to his whole life. The therapist will try to help the child recognize when he/she is doing this and redirect his/her thinking to a more adaptive approach.

Several methods of CBT may be used, depending on the particular problem. Some of the techniques used include:

  • Guiding self-statements (“Stop, Think, Act”)

  • Positive self-statements (“You can solve this problem”)

  • Verbal self-instructions (“What are all of my options to solve this problem?”)

  • Relaxation training (controlled breathing, progressive muscle relaxation)

  • Recognition of faulty cognition (“I know she didn’t mean it; it was an accident”)

  • Modeling, role playing and reinforcement for using CBT skill

Who Usually Receives Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Treatment?

Children as young as 6 or 7 may benefit from cognitive-behavior therapy. But a child must have the ability to understand concepts such as self-talk and self-instruction, which may be more likely in older children. Children who cannot self-regulate are not able to benefit from CBT. 

What are the Benefits of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy?

The benefits of CBT are similar to the benefits of behavior therapy and may include:

  • Receiving emotional support

  • Resolving conflicts with others

  • Understanding how feelings impact thoughts and actions

  • Reversing negative patterns of thinking, addressing bad habits

  • Appropriately dealing with stress and frustration

  • Participating positively in a variety of activities

  • Setting goals to replace negative patterns of behavior with positive ones

  • New ways of learning and self-help techniques are reinforced

  • Increase in self-esteem

  • Improved performance at school, at home and in social situations

Drawbacks of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy

One of the main drawbacks of CBT is that it depends on the child’s willingness to learn new skills and practice them for it to be effective. This can be a treatment barrier when CBT is being used to address an issue that the child is not necessarily interested in resolving, or one that may requires too much effort to overcome. Parents, too, must be willing to encourage the child to practice new skills and use positive reinforcement for cooperation and successful outcomes. This may be difficult to do in the context of a larger therapy program or just as part of the daily family routine. For children who cannot self-regulate, CBT will not be effective. 

 

Address: 14780 Memorial Drive Suite 202

 Houston, Texas 77079

Email: admin@juliascounseling.com
Tel:  832-303-8933

Fax:  832-383-3817

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© 2015 by Julia's Counseling & Play Therapy Group, PLLC