Therapy for Children & Families

Child Therapy

At Millstream, clinicians delve into the environmental and biological factors that underpin child and family difficulties, fostering a collaborative and allied approach with parents. Clinicians partner with parents, schools, and specialists to align strategies, facilitate positive shifts across different contexts, and strengthen child and parent support networks.

Allied Parenting Approach

At Millstream, child therapy is not separate from working with parents. For children under age 14, working with a child occurs in parallel with broad family upskilling and facilitation of parenting strategies. Therapy supports overall therapy goals and strengthens the family unit and family connections. Parents are recognised as the most effective agents of change in their child's life and are best placed to support sustained and broad positive shifts.

Evidenced & Individualised Treatment
  • Behaviour Challenges
  • Emotional Dysregulation
  • Anxieties, Fears and Excessive Worries
  • Rapid Mood Shifts, Irritability & Anger
  • Depression, Grief & Loss
  • Life Changes and Adjustment
  • Adverse Life Exposures
  • Co-sleeping & Sleep Disruption
  • Excessive Screen Time Use
  • Reward Seeking Behaviours
  • School Reluctance & Avoidance
  • Low Confidence & Low Self-Esteem
  • Life Changes and Adjustment
  • Adverse Life Exposures
  • Family tensions & ruptures
  • Unsafe Thoughts
  • Self-harm
  • Autism Support
  • ADHD Support
  • Learning Difficulties Support

Play Therapy is an effective approach in counselling children. This approach of therapy recognises that children often communicate and process their experiences through play, making it a natural and developmentally appropriate medium for therapeutic intervention.

Here’s why Play Therapy can be beneficial for children:

  • Developmentally Appropriate: Play is the primary language of young children. Through play, children can express their thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a safe and non-threatening way. Play Therapy leverages a fun communication tool and provides children with a familiar and comfortable environment to explore their feelings and experiences.
  • Expression of Feelings: Children may not have the verbal skills to articulate their emotions or experiences directly. Play allows them to express complex feelings and experiences symbolically, through toys, games, and imaginative play scenarios. This process helps children process difficult emotions and experiences at their own pace.
  • Therapeutic Relationship: Play Therapy involves a supportive and trusting relationship between the child and the therapist. The therapist provides a safe and accepting space for the child to explore and express themselves without judgment. This relationship serves as a foundation for trust, opening up and delving deeper into problems.
  • Effectiveness Approach: Play Therapy is grounded in research and theory, with therapists accessing specific techniques and interventions tailored to each child’s needs. While it may appear as “play” it is a method that facilitates therapeutic outcomes.

There are many programs and courses available to parents. With each family being unique, finding the right program that works for your family is important. Some programs available throughout Perth include:

  • Triple P – Positive Parenting
  • Behaviour Tonics
  • Circle of Security
  • 1-2-3 Magic
  • Zone your home (zones of regulation

 

  1. Parenting can be challenging, and supportive and non-judgmental assistance can make all the difference. 

    Here are some strategies that support a positive family environment.

    • Shifting your Ideas about challenging behaviours. 
      • Viewing your child’s challenging behaviours as a communication of a problem, or an unmet need, or an understanding that they have exceeded their coping strategies, is a helpful first step.
      • By prioritising understanding the behaviour rather than stopping it can assist with it resolving faster.
      • Don’t presume to know what is happening for your child and remaining curious and asking them questions about their actions and underlying feelings can be helpful.
      • Don’t presume to know you child understands their behaviour and/or feelings. If they say, “I don’t know”, it is because they don’t know.
    • Remaining Calm and Providing a Positive Family Environment.
      • Support a low conflict environment by modelling calmness and respectful communication.
      • Provide a positive, loving, and safe environment is ideal for children to grow and learn.
      • With angry child responses, slow communication down and support their regulation before continuing the communication.
      • Give your child time to talk in communication, slow talks down and allow them time to finish what they wish to say.
    • Consistency and Clear Boundaries.
      • To define family expectations, be consistent in your parenting practices (e.g., device time).
      • Maintain clear boundaries to help children feel secure.
    • Use Positive Attention.
      • Use praise frequently and try to be specific (e.g., “I liked the way you put the plate in the dishwasher without me asking.”).
      • Use encouraging messages frequently to reinforce expectations, family values and desired behaviours. This is more effective than a punitive approach.
      • Learn about your child. Ask them questions about their likes, dislikes and who they are or wish to be in the world.
    • Challenging Other Beliefs
      • Typically, children are motivated to do well.
      • An unmotivated child doesn’t mean they are lazy.
      • Skill deficits may exist that make it difficult for a child to do well.
      • A child who is not understood, has difficulties understanding their challenges or struggles, and is repeatedly told they aren’t trying enough, may give up and stop caring – now looking like they are unmotivated to change.

Reflective Functioning is often called Mentalisation and can be a very useful, if not powerful parent tool.

It refers to the capacity of a parent to understand and interpret their own internal mental state, and simultaneously that of their child. It is a multifaceted concept that involves recognising and processing emotions, desires, intentions, and perspectives.

Arietta Slade, a prominent researcher in attachment theory and mentalisation, has extensively studied and contributed to the understanding of how this technique improves parent-child relationships. 

Mentalisation or Reflective Functioning focuses on understanding your child’s undesired behaviour rather than stopping it from occurring. By slowing down and learning new ways of communicating with your child, the behaviour can shift, and your relationship with your child can strengthen.

Millstream clinicians can facilitate this powerful technique.

Behaviour responses may be related to difficulties and gaps in skills that can be explicitly taught:

  • Executive Functioning
    • problem-solving
    • mindset transitioning & flexibility
    • understanding time
    • organisation
    • frustration tolerance & staying calm
    • considering solutions
  • Emotional Regulation
    • expressing emotions
    • staying calm
    • identifying needs
    • big feelings
    • fatigue
    • anxiety, worries, sadness
  • Language Processing
    • expressing thoughts
    • gaps in comprehending
    • processing information
  • Cognitive Flexibility
    • insistence
    • persistence
    • preferences
    • difficulties understanding others perspectives
    • difficulties understanding situational factors
  • Social Skills
    • misreading social cues
    • lacking basic social skills
    • inappropriate attention seeking
    • perception & lacking awareness of impact on others
    • lacking empathy

 

Troubleshooting the issue:

  • Talking through the issue with the child.
  • Providing your perspective and difficulties in a developmentally appropriate way.
  • Inviting the child to solve the issue.
  • Putting change in play.
Resources