Counseling & Therapy May 2020 Newsletter
May 26, 2020
May is mental health awareness month. A month where we can reflect on our own mental health and take a pulse of where we are. Mental health - we all have it – just like we all have our physical health. Yet so often, mental health is forgotten, left out, or stigmatized so much that people ignore this aspect of their wellbeing. Mental health knows no bounds – it can affect anyone regardless of background, upbringing or status. People can go through similar situations yet can respond very differently. Our mental health is a continuum and different experiences can shift our place on that continuum throughout our lives. Sometimes, we might feel very good about our mental health. Then, we may feel slight changes where we have heightened anxiety or depressive symptoms. At other times, we may feel too plagued and weighted down by our symptoms to even know how to improve them.
As adults, our mental health can affect those around us, including the children in our lives. Children, especially the younger ones, don’t have the capacity, as adults do, to express their emotions or needs like adults. Children will more often tell us how they are feeling through their behaviors. Paying attention to changes in children, or teens, behaviors at home, school, or with their friends can help adults begin to notice if there something to talk about with them.
As mental health awareness month comes to a close, take a few minutes to take your own mental health pulse and reflect on where this aspect of your health is. If you have children, reflect on their behaviors recently as well. We are living in difficult times right now and our mental health is being challenged in new ways each day. Embrace the emotions you are feeling, let the thoughts come, but also let them go. If you find yourself needing some extra support, reach out to one of our clinicians who can help you work through these difficult times. Tele-health counseling available now. Click here to get more information and set-up an appointment.
Treatment Perspective: Play Therapy
Play therapy is a form of therapy that uses play to unveil and work through mental health issues in children. Play therapy is often used with children from 3-12 years of age. There are two basic types of play therapy, directive and non-directive, and this month we will focus on non-directive play. Non-directive play therapy is child-centered. The child self-directs his or her play within safe boundaries, learning how to express themselves in a creative and self-accountable way; making their own choices and accepting who they are in the process.
Play is an essential part of child development in which children learn how to problem solve, negotiate, rely on and trust themselves, and build empathy and self-confidence. In session, therapists look for themes coming up in play and work with the child to reflect meaning. In doing this, children learn how to identify and better understand their feelings. From there, new ways of coping/behaviors can be learned. This is all done in a safe space therapists create through acceptance of and unconditional positive regard for the child. Play therapists check in regularly with parents and often coach parents on themes or parenting skills that can be used at home and/or school settings. Play therapy is a specialty focus that therapists train in and it is recommended to look for a therapist with specific training in play therapy.
Rachel Dowling, MA, LAMFT
Rachel is a school-based and outpatient clinician serving Stonebridge Elementary and Afton-Lakeland Elementary schools, as well as, occasional work in the Stillwater clinic. Rachel believes in taking quite a different approach to therapy when working with elementary age children verses adolescents or adults. She knows young children usually aren’t able to think about their feelings, thoughtfully reflect on them, and then articulate those feelings to a therapist. Children express themselves through play, and therefore when working with kids, Rachel utilizes the modality called Child-Centered Play Therapy. Through this modality Rachel is able to look for themes in play and work with the child to reflect meaning. Rachel creates a safe space through acceptance of and unconditional positive regard for the child.
Lindsay Sachs, MS
Lindsey has her Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health. She provides school-based mental health services for elementary and middle school students in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Lindsey's approach is relational, strengths-based, and collaborative. She believes therapy is a safe place to grow, learn, and achieve shared goals using an eclectic mix of modalities to meet each client's unique needs. Approaches used might include play therapy, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral, solution-focused, Adlerian, and narrative therapy. Lindsey is currently doing Tele-therapy with students and finds creative ways to use play therapy and narrative therapy through use of pictures, storytelling, toys and games.