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Perhaps your child or a child you know may have experienced some form of trauma, be experiencing delays in social development, and mental health related issues. Therapy can help with these by allowing the child a special safe place to express their feelings appropriately with someone removed from the situation. They can express themselves freely with  a trained professional removed from the places they are experiencing the problems who can give an outside perspective.

Counseling children is different than working with adults. Children are different than adults mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. They undergo changes in growth and development at different stages. Children are not at the same level of cognitive development as adults. They do not have the same resources as adults for understanding, coping, communicating and influencing the world. Their lives are much more dependent upon their caregivers and the environment in which they live. They are also individuals and personalities in their own right. Therefore, these things must be considered, and different approaches to therapy are appropriate for their specific needs. I have some training in play therapy and cognitive behavior therapy to treat trauma with children and love to use these resources.

I have been enjoying my play room lately.

play tx toysI have had a lot of opportunities to work with children this year and I feel a special connection with the children I have worked and played with. I contract with Gainesville Integrative Psychotherapy under a contract with the Partnership for Strong Families and have referrals to work with children after a report and investigation by the Department of Children and Families. This work has been incredibly rewarding and each child is so special. I worked on a treatment team with psychiatrists this year in outpatient mental health. I also spoke to the children at Sun Country Sports recently about self esteem in sports. I have given talks on play therapy with activities for kids and parents at Loga Springs Academy as advertised with Fun 4 Gator Kids. This summer I am looking forward to doing a two week yoga and meditation class with the children at Santa Fe Kids College and a social skills camp with the No Limit Outreach Foundation children!

While working on my MS degree, I lived in Orlando for five years and worked with many children. I really enjoyed just monitoring the bus, teaching, and mentoring the children at the Orlando Children’s Church. I instructed gymnastics and dance with children with autism and in the 21st Century Program in the public schools afterschool programs. I did part of my counseling internship at a Baker Act Unit and was on the children’s unit for part of that time. With my first counseling supervisor the late Dr. Cheryl Laird at her private practice in Longwood, FL I observed her counseling work with children and families and learned so much. She was a victim herself but worked with both offenders, child victims, and families.

I use play therapy techniques along with cognitive-behavioral and person-centered frameworks that are shown to help children with problems such as aggression and anger, ADHD, depression and anxiety, grief, self-esteem, trauma, social skills, neglect, feelings of abandonment, sexual abuse, divorce, domestic violence, problems at home or school, etc. If you know a child who is having mental health struggles do not hesitate to encourage them and their caretaker to seek out mental health care and play therapy.

Rachel Hofer

www.lovingtherapy.com

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