Is psychological intervention with kids more complex than intervention with adults? What methods do you consider most effective with young populations?
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Health professionals who are concerned with maintaining the psychological welfare of children encounter several obstacles in their practice. Relative to adults, children have more complex psychological needs that require better-developed intervention programs and strategies.
One of the major barriers to effective psychological intervention in children is their inability to make personal decisions in important matters of life. In addition, the inability of children to express their feelings and thoughts effectively adds to the complexity of psychological intervention in children.
This complexity exists because age is a critical aspect in the selection of psychological treatment, the objectives of the treatment are important, and the symptoms of the disorder that are evident in a child are considered. There are four main classes of psychological interventions that are applied by health professionals. These include individual psychotherapy, behavior modification, remedial therapies and education, and social and cognitive behavioral therapy (Ebert et al, 2008).
Several approaches are used in individual psychotherapy. They include client-centered therapy, child and adolescent psychoanalysis, supportive psychotherapy and exploratory psychotherapy (Ebert et al, 2008). Supportive therapy is a highly selective approach that does not have a single theoretical basis that may be considered humanistic in nature.
It is best suited for treatment of adjustment disorders. Client-centered therapy is considered play therapy that is highly effective in psychological interventions children. In this therapeutic approach, a therapist uses several methods that encourage a child to explore personal feelings in a way that helps the therapist understand the feelings of the child. It is best suited for treatment of mild anxiety disorders and adjustment reactions (Ebert et al, 2008).
Exploratory psychotherapy integrates both play therapy and verbal therapy. A therapist uses interpretations that are based on the child’s play, verbal behavior and non-verbal behavior to resolve the child’s unconscious psychological struggles. This approach is effective in the treatment of anxiety, somatoform and several other personality disorders. The difference between psychoanalysis and exploratory psychotherapy is that psychoanalysis is more intense.
It is recommended for children under the age of 5 because it focuses on unconscious psychological conflicts in the child. It is effective in treatment of borderline personality disorders, anxiety and traumatic experiences. Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on problem-solving approaches and the self-awareness concept to treat adolescents with major depression (Ebert et al, 2008). These treatments are not effective in the treatment of severe psychological disorders, hence not recommended for these disorders.
I notice great value and effectiveness in music therapy, play therapy, ropes courses, music therapy and animal therapy. These therapies use approaches that encourage children to participate in therapy hence increasing their effectiveness. For example, play therapy creates an environment in which children are comfortable to express their feelings and thoughts.
The fact that play therapy focuses on the emotions of children helps them in their emotional and spiritual development (McKinney and Power, 2012). Play therapy has many benefits. For example, secure attachment is associated with play therapy and intense free play.
Ebert, H., Loosen, T., Nurcombe, B., and Leckman, F. (2008). Current Diagnosis and Treatment Psychiatry 2nd Ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.
McKinney, C., and Power, L. (2012). Childhood Playtime, Parenting, and Psychopathology in Emerging Adults: Implications for Research and Play Therapists. International Journal of Play Therapy, 21(4), 215-231.