The importance of therapy in childhood: when is it needed?

Childhood is an important stage, because what happens at that time has reflections throughout life. Therefore, giving attention to emotional, affective, psychosocial and cognitive well-being is important for children to have a healthy life and an adequate development.

Often, seeking specialized help is important for this to occur, so fathers and mothers must understand more about the importance of therapy in childhood:

What is the importance of therapy in childhood?

Childhood is a stage of life in which many discoveries are made. Learning is constant and any problem that may arise in this process has the potential to significantly affect the child’s development, which can manifest itself in the form of harmful thought and behavior patterns later on.

Child therapy aims to prevent the appearance of these harmful patterns through the care of the child’s mental health , allowing a healthy expression of his feelings, thoughts, his creativity, among others.

Often caregivers are not sure when to take the child to psychotherapy. There are several reasons for this: from the taboo in relation to therapy to a lack of perception of the need for therapy on the part of the child.

In general, some signs that the child may be in need of therapeutic care are:

  • Difficulties in relating to other children;
  • Excessive shyness;
  • Attention and / or learning difficulties;
  • Excessive crying;
  • Irritability;
  • Tantrums, malpractice and exaggerated aggression;
  • Hyperactivity;
  • Changes in appetite;
  • Fear of being alone;
  • Isolation;
  • Excessive jealousy of a younger sister or brother;
  • Exaggerated need for proximity to parents;
  • Enuresis and encopresis (peeing and pooping in inappropriate places, such as in bed, after learning to use the bathroom);
  • Delays in speech and walking;
  • Refusal to go to school for no apparent reason;
  • Drop in school performance;
  • Separation from parents;
  • Loss of a family member.

It is worth remembering that the fact that a child is in need of therapy does not necessarily indicate a failure of the father and / or mother in the upbringing. Sometimes, the problems that may arise are outside the areas of competence of those responsible and it is not a shame to assume that the child is in need of professional help.

Understanding this is essential for good treatment, as it opens up the dialogue, making the relationship between the therapist and the fathers and mothers more harmonious, allowing for great collaboration between the parties, which brings better results.

For school life

Often, the child has a drop in school performance not because of learning problems themselves, but because of emotional issues. Children who find themselves in a very stressful situation , such as a traumatic event, may have difficulty learning.

In this sense, child therapy helps a lot the child to deal with their own emotions, developing emotional regulation skills, providing a space for the expression of negative emotions that may be hindering learning.

There are cases, too, when school performance suffers from cognitive problems. When this occurs, child psychotherapy can also be of help, exploring the ways that the child can learn and carrying out activities to reinforce the content seen at school.

For affective development

Children feel everything very intensely and often do not know how to express their emotions properly.

Fathers and mothers, in an attempt to teach the child that certain emotions are not socially accepted or should not be expressed in an exaggerated way, end up censoring the child, causing damage to affective development.

Emotional regulation is a skill that everyone should learn to live well in society. Feeling sad or angry is normal and this should be taught to children.

It is not about “not feeling” negative emotions, but learning to express them in healthy ways that do not damage your relationships.

Often, adults prefer to say “stop crying” instead of teaching that it is normal to feel sad, also that there are times when crying is appropriate and times when it is not. In this way, the child learns to “silence” emotions instead of expressing them in a balanced way.

Every “quiet” emotion ends up accumulating over time and the tendency is for the child to have “outbursts” of crying or anger , for example. Therefore, teaching her how to deal with her emotions – and not simply repressing them – is of the utmost importance for a balanced emotional life.

In child therapy, this is worked with great care, so that she is able to express her frustrations, desires, fears, sadness and even anger, in order to learn the skill of emotional regulation.

In this sense, child therapy also helps in the development of traumatic experiences, which helps to prevent mental disorders related to the presence of trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative identity disorder, personality disorders, depression , anxiety , among others. .

How does child therapy work?

Child therapy, unlike family therapy, is done only with the child. However, in the first sessions, those responsible are asked to appear to tell details about her: her life story, the complaint that led them to seek therapy, etc.

Issues such as family planning, pregnancy, early years of life, milestones in child development, among others, are investigated. The therapist should also know if there is any situation that triggers behavioral changes, such as traumatic situations, or if there is a drop in school performance and learning in general.

After these first sessions, called “interview with the parents”, the child actually begins the therapeutic process, but this time only he and the therapist.

Occasionally, the father and mother may be asked for feedback regarding the evolution of the treatment or to receive guidance regarding behaviors at home, at school, among others. However, in most sessions, the dialogue is only with the child.

Unlike adult therapy, which focuses on the client’s word, child therapy is done through playful activities.

It is through games, games and creative expressions such as drawings, paintings, among others, that it is possible to access the child’s psyche, bearing in mind that the children’s vocabulary is often limited to express what the child feels or thinks.

In playing, she reproduces the situations she experiences and her feelings, including those she still cannot put into words. Therefore, the game ends up revealing much more than simple speech.

It is important to note that there is no exact number of sessions for child therapy; it all depends on the child’s development.

In general, the first results are already seen after a few sessions, as long as everyone involved is collaborating, that is, if the family does not collaborate with the therapist’s guidelines, for example, the results may take longer to appear.

Is play therapy the same as child psychotherapy?

Ludotherapy and child psychotherapy are different. Ludotherapy is a technique that consists of a therapy through games and playful activities, and in fact it is the most used technique in child psychotherapy.

Child psychotherapy is an umbrella term to designate any therapeutic care that is done with children, but that does not necessarily use play therapy.

Although play therapy is the most used technique in child psychotherapy, it is not always the choice in every session. This is especially true for older children who are able to express themselves well through words.

Child therapy: at what age can you do it?

There is no minimum age to start child therapy. However, before 3 years of age, the child may not be able to do the therapy without the parents, given that it is still an age of extreme dependence.

Children under 3 years of age can be seen, but it is usually a therapy in which the parents participate, not necessarily following the characteristics of child psychotherapy described in this article.


Childhood therapy can be transformative, helping the child’s good development. This includes social, emotional and cognitive aspects.

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