Therapy with Children
Therapy with Young Kids
The most important part of therapy with young children is the relationship between the child and therapist. Sessions will be focused on building and maintaining a safe, supportive, and consistent relationship with their therapist so that the child feels comfortable being open in session. Through this relationship, kids are able to learn to identify and share feelings in a healthy way, learn coping skills that work for them, and identify triggers for big feelings. Since a child's language is "play", therapy is largely play-based and therapists utilize games, toys, art, music, and role-play to improve the child's healthy expression of feelings and appropriate management of behaviors.
Therapy with Emerging Adults
As high school graduation approaches, teens may experience an increase in anxiety, disappointment in their future plans, or just feel lost as to what the next steps should be. Therapy from this point forward is based on what the individual client needs to identify and achieve their personal goals. Themes vary widely, however, common focus in therapy may be a poor adjustment to college, difficulty taking on tasks of adulthood or other responsibilities, or struggles between the parent/child relationship. Therapists work with the young adult to explore areas that are causing distress and areas that bring joy and finding ways to balance them with the responsibilities of adult life.
Therapy with Pre-Adolescents
At this age, kids are learning to navigate new independence in thoughts and ideas, new social constructs, and increased responsibilities. Themes of self-esteem, changing bodies, and where you fit in with friends can cause an emergence in anxiety or feelings of isolation and depression. Therapists work to identify where the child is struggling in these areas and works with the parents to navigate these changes. At this age, therapists model appropriate social skills and communication, teach assertiveness vs. aggression, and help children find comfort and confidence in who they are. Sessions are tailored to the child's interest and therapy can incorporate activities such as watercolor painting, board games, bracelet making, and more. Activities that keep their hands busy often lead to increased comfort with opening up and talking about difficulties at home or at school.
Family Therapy is a specialized treatment approach that is not provided by Mercer Counseling Serviced at this time. Parents are involved in their child's treatment through updates via phone/email, abbreviated parent support sessions, caregiver sessions (without the child present) and occasional family sessions (with the child present) as needed. Parents may be brought into sessions to review skills learned, manage a problem the child is experiencing, or to share urgent concerns. Regular weekly sessions are conducted with just the client and therapist present unless otherwise specified.
Therapy with Adolescents
As teens move through adolescence, themes of self-doubt, perfectionism, social anxiety, or depression can creep in. In a matter of a few short years the expectations and work loads continue to mount, the emergence and ending of friendships and relationships take place, and kids are faced with making life decisions about college plans, career goals, and more. Therapy is increasingly talk-based with a focus on creating and working toward both short and long term goals. Therapists work to help teens identify core beliefs about themselves and the world, as well as to increase healthy relationships, work to challenge problematic thinking, improve decision making, and navigate life challenges with them through compassionate and supportive counseling. Goals are often focused on symptom reduction, increased awareness of thought and behavior patterns, and achievement of realistic goals.
Therapy for Siblings
If you are interested in setting up both of your children for therapy services, each child will receive their own therapist. It is important for children to have privacy and a personal relationship with their therapist and in order to maintain healthy boundaries, one therapist generally does not see two children in the same family. If two therapists are not available, one child may be referred to a different therapist within the same office suite for the ease of appointment time and coordination of care. Therapists separately can work on problems within the family relationships, navigating divorce or other major family events such as the loss of a family member. Sibling sessions can be arranged if appropriate, however the bulk of sessions will be individual.