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  • Writer's picturePanorama Psychology

What Does Early Childhood Therapy Really Look Like?

Updated: May 9

Early childhood is a critical time for development, as children learn to navigate their emotions, form relationships, and build important life skills. However, some children and families need additional support and resources to get through the early childhood years. Some young children struggle in response to life changes, traumatic events, or parents' own mental health struggles; others are simply hard-wired with a higher activity level, more intense sensitivities, or a strong-willed personality.

When a young child and their family are struggling in these ways, that's where early childhood therapy comes in. This type of therapy is designed specifically for young children and their families, with a focus on helping them build the skills and resilience they need to navigate difficult emotions and challenges.

Play Therapy: One of the most popular forms of early childhood therapy is play therapy. This type of therapy allows children to express themselves through play, using toys and games as a way to communicate their thoughts and feelings. The therapist acts as a guide, helping the child explore and process their emotions in a safe and supportive environment.

Play therapy can be especially helpful for young children who may have difficulty expressing themselves verbally, as it provides a non-verbal way for them to communicate and work through their feelings. Through play therapy, children can develop greater self-awareness, emotional regulation skills, and a sense of control over their own experiences.

Family Therapy: Another important form of early childhood therapy is family therapy. This type of therapy involves the entire family, with the goal of improving attachment relationships, building emotional bonds, and helping young children feel heard and understood by the people who matter most in their lives. With young children, family therapy also typically involves a lot of play, as therapists want to help support healthy interactions and playing with your child is a good opportunity to practice new skills.

In family therapy, the therapist supports family members in identifying patterns of behavior and emotions, and finding effective ways to respond. Common interventions include helping caregivers to model behavior that they want to see more of, focusing on positive reinforcement (e.g., praise, encouragement), and labeling feelings that a young child is experiencing in the moment. Through family therapy, children can learn to feel safer and more secure through interactions with their caregivers.

Parent-Only Therapy: One of the wonderful things about working with families with young children is that sometimes, a therapist does not have to see a child at all to help them. In fact, recent research now shows that for certain issues, parent-only therapy is just as effective as family or child therapy. In parent-only therapy, we help caregivers understand their young children on a deeper level and make changes to the way they interact with each other and the family. This therapy can often bring quick results when parents are motivated and reflective.

Overall, early childhood therapy can be an invaluable resource for young children and their families, providing them with the tools and support they need to navigate difficult emotions and challenges. At Panorama Psychology, we are fortunate to have therapists who specialize in early childhood therapy and who are experts in family interactions, attachment, and child development. If play therapy, early childhood family therapy, or parent-only therapy sound like a good fit for you, reach out!


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