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When Children are Resistant to Therapy

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

Children react to therapy very differently. Some understand right away that the therapist is here to help then there are others who don't share that enthusiasm. They may drag their feet, cry during sessions. We see them torn between the playroom and their parents. Then some want nothing to do with the process at all.


These children refuse to open up. They are sinking with emotion, and the last thing we want to do is rock the boat. When someone is about to face a challenge, a fear or inner struggle, the point of therapy is to make sure they feel like they can.


We present you with three simple ways you can get your child excited for therapy.

Parents, get involved!


In our experience, if a child is having trouble separating, the goal is to help them feel safe, so they trust themselves.


Children who have been through the traumatic situation will often be suspicious of situations. They may not trust themselves to handle whatever it is they are about to experience. They may cry or exhibit other signs of anxiety, meaning; their brains have jumped into "freeze, fight or flight" mode. When this happens, bring the parent into the playroom with them.


Parents can make a difference in these transitions. A walk to the therapy room or, in my experience, often inviting parents to participate and engaging their child in play works wonders.


Allowing children to feel in control


Children, like adults, do not like feeling as if they don't have control over their lives. Imagine yourself as a child, being told what to eat, when to go to bed, when they can play or go to bed. The idea is that in Play Therapy, children have a voice, space is in their control. In the play therapy room, it is safe for them to express their emotions.


One of the strategies we use with parents is to let their child know they are in charge. In the playroom, we will go as fast or as slow as your child needs to address whatever is bothering them.


Trust the process


When we have children resistant to therapy, a commonplace to start a session is the waiting room! A child who refuses to enter the therapy room may be willing to engage outside the room. Parents can help by giving therapists a thorough history of their child to get an idea of how to get the child to open up.


Ultimately, we must remember that getting into the therapy room can take time. We trust that there is a methodology in place that is proven to be effective. The thing that matters most is the relationship between therapist and child, and it essential to remember that relationships and trust take time to establish.


If you would like to speak to a qualified Play therapist to learn how your child could benefit from play therapy, click here to schedule a complimentary consultation today or take our quiz!


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