Psychological Treatment of Children and Adolescents
Therapeutic work with children and with adolescents implies previous and ongoing work with the parents since they are the ones who best know the life history that the patient cannot remember due to her or his young age. The therapist will also help the parents to understand what their child is going through, and, if necessary, he may suggest certain modifications in the family dynamics.
Children’s primary mode of expression in play; thus, at the beginning of a child psychotherapy he or she is invited to play, draw or talk with the therapist using material that has been prepared for her or him. Through attentive observation of the child’s play, drawings and verbal communication, the therapist will offer the child ideas ––in language adapted to a child–– as to what may be happening inside his or her mind in order o help her or him understand, and resolve, the inner conflicts that are obstructing his or her development. This aspect of the deep emotional comprehension of difficulties is similar to work with adults.
Adolescence is a transitionary stage between childhood and adulthood that has its own very specific characteristics; amongst these the morphological and hormonal changes that come with puberty must not be underestimated.
In adolescent psychotherapy the patient is invited to communicate much in the same way as with adults but drawing material will be available since it is not uncommon for adolescents to have difficulties in expressing themselves. The emphasis of the therapy is on words and on the patient being able to express internal conflict verbally. The subsequent work of deep emotional understanding is equivalent to work with adults.