Can My Child Participate in Individual Therapy

Updated on November 17, 2022 | By Samara Davis

Individual therapy is a popular type of psychotherapy involving a therapist and one client at a time. The therapist will tailor the process to your child’s unique needs as they explore contributory factors and symptom alleviation. Professional therapists can use various techniques, including individual play therapy, CBT, ACT, DBT, and creative and expressive therapies. The younger your child is, the more you’ll be involved in the sessions.

Individual Play Therapy for Preschoolers

Children can participate in various individual therapies if they’re old enough. Preschoolers between three and five years can benefit from individual play therapy. The choice makes sense for such children because they explore their world through play rather than expressing their feelings using words.  

Play therapy doesn’t involve sitting still, looking at an adult in the eyes, and trying to say the right things. Therapists use individual play therapy for children between 3 and 12. Sessions are organized in a special playroom stuffed with toys. Play therapists focus on understanding what your child is trying to say. They also act as a bridge between the child and the parent.

Individual CBT Therapy Sessions for Tweens

Children between 7 and 12 years fall under “tweens” and are usually more comfortable with separating from their parents. Tweens are independent and able to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Elementary school children are at a stage where they’re developing advanced thinking skills, making them great for therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

CBT can help your child learn how to deal with negative thoughts and feelings. The therapy is built on the idea that thoughts, not external factors like people, influence emotions and behavior. CBT can help train your child’s mind and thoughts, allowing them to overcome negative thoughts, even if the situation remains unchanged. 

As a parent, you may have occasional meetings with the therapist but don’t need to attend each session. Tweens are more than capable of handling individual therapy sessions. Individual CBT for tweens and elementary kids involves relaxation techniques to relieve anxiety and panic. The child will also learn how to spot and handle unrealistic worries.

Individual Therapy for Teens

Parents of teens don’t need to worry about their children participating in therapy sessions alone. Most children can manage therapy sessions by middle grade and high school by themselves. Teens are more creative and have a good grasp of their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. They can also express themselves in various ways and learn different techniques.

Most teens crave independence and have begun forming a different identity away from their family unit. A therapist offers unbiased listening, allowing the child to vent their feelings confidently. Teens are the most suitable candidates for individual sessions. Parents of teens in therapy can work closely with the therapist, but the meetings are less frequent. 

The few meetings involve discussing the child’s progress and exploring new ways to provide the right support. Therapists can use various techniques like ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy). Such sessions teach your teen child the skills to cope with stress, regulate emotions, and improve personal relationships.

Determining If Your Child is Ready for Therapy

Your child may be a candidate for individualized therapies as early as three years old. Therapists use various techniques and treatments to shape the mind and thoughts of your child and relieve any symptoms. The therapy sessions also impart skills to recognize, evade, and deal with various situations and emotions. As the parent, you’ll attend the intake appointment, some weekly sessions, and separate (collateral) sessions without the child.

Age is one of many things that determine if your child is ready for individual sessions. Every child develops at a unique pace, so leading therapists don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. You can monitor your child for signs that predict their readiness for one-on-one sessions with a therapist. Don’t get bothered if your child is meeting milestones at a slow pace. Your child is ready for individual sessions with a therapist if they can do the following:

  • Use objects to represent something else in make-believe play
  • Communicate their needs to other people in your absence 
  • Focus on one activity for several minutes
  • Verbalize different feelings and thoughts

Finding Therapy for Your Child

Everyone, including children as young as preschool, has individual battles to fight. If you notice signs that predict the need for professional therapy, seek help for your child. Individual therapy has many benefits when you start early and work with experienced therapists. Stick to reputable professionals and centers with a clean track record.

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