Children who go through abuse, domestic violence, loss, parental divorce, harsh criticism, bullying and severe disappointment feel alone as they grapple with the traumatic experiences. The adults sometimes do not realise their children's emotional struggle until after they express their pain through behaviours such as self-harm or addictions.
Children who experience trauma, bullying or parental divorce may feel confused, anxious or depressed. They develop an extreme fear of closeness or abandonment, leading to low self-esteem and difficulty forming healthy boundaries, making them vulnerable to further trauma.
Early intervention will allow the children to express themselves and process the issue. It will protect the children against resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Some effective and well-researched types of treatment are play therapy and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT).
Play is the universal language of children. And play goes beyond just using toys and figurines for enjoyment and fun. The play uses the vocabulary of metaphors, allowing children to “play out” what they cannot express and yet feel safe to express them freely and explore their harrowing experiences. Thus, play therapy is an effective intervention for children who need some form of therapeutic support, particularly when they struggle with using words to identify or recognize the causes of concerns.
Some benefits of play therapy include improving:
Healing from trauma
Play therapy is taken place in a comfortable and safe environment where the child has free access to the toys and equipment in the room. There are various mediums alongside toys, dolls, figurines, blocks, sandplay or games found in the play therapy room. Play therapy may include other therapeutic techniques such as movement, storytelling, roleplay or drama to facilitate healing. Our EMDR-trained play therapist integrates EMDR into play therapy for more effective interventions.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT)
Various research and studies recognise TF-CBT as the leading trauma therapy alongside EMDR (Eye Movement and Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy. It is especially effective for the treatment of children. The goal of TF-CBT is to process the distorted beliefs or attributions developed from the trauma that results in the survivors' negative emotional and behavioural responses or thoughts.
TF-CBT is a supportive intervention for child trauma survivors to process their traumatic experiences and identify maladaptive thoughts, behaviour, and relationship challenges. The TF-CBT Therapist work with the children using creative activities such as play and journal writing to develop skills to cope with ordinary life stressors and move past their traumatic experiences.
As a co-joint intervention, the TF-CBT therapist works with the parents or caregivers of the trauma survivors to develop skills to cope with their distress and painful emotions. TF-CBT therapist also provides the parents or caregivers training on effective communication, stress management and positive parenting. The family therapy component supports parents in decreasing emotional distress and depressive symptoms and increases their capacity for child management and support.