Expressive Therapies

How KidsAid works, by Patrick Conrad, Chair of Trustees:

KidsAid provides therapy for children and young people aged 3-18 years, in some circumstances we will all so work in an interactive manner with the parents or carers of our young patients. 

We are committed to making sure that the support we provide is matched, as exactly as possible, to the needs, desires and age of the child.  By working in this way we are confident that the well-being and mental health of the child will be supported and enhanced. 

When parents and carers are looking for help in addressing the needs of their child they are likely to be experiencing a degree of stress – this is completely natural when the well being of ‘your child’ is at stake. Against this background it is important that anybody seeking help for their child should have a clear understanding of what is being offered. 

To help this process we have set-out below in jargon free language, what KidsAid offers and how it might help a child:

The approach we take is known as “expressive therapy”. What this means in plain language is that a highly trained therapist can understand, empathise with and help a child (or adult) by observing the non-verbal messages that a person shows during creative activities.  At KidsAid we currently have therapists who are skilled practitioners in the key areas of: Play, Art, Drama and Music Therapy.  To some degree these terms are self-explanatory, but a little more detail and some examples are given below to give an idea of the sort of activities a child will engage in and what might be understood from the therapists observations:

Play Therapy:  This therapy works by allowing a child to play in a free and undirected way – our therapy rooms are full of interesting and tempting toys that encourage children to engage  – there are sets of construction blocks, sand trays, water troughs, dolls, cars and so on the list is long and ever changing!  The therapist observes the child at play and will use these observations to both gain trust and, as the sessions progress, to explore the issues that are causing concern or distress. 

Art Therapy: Kidsaid’s Art Therapy room has everything a child needs to be creative and a licence to make a mess if they want to.  From a therapeutic point of view, the trained therapist will pickup on non-verbal symbols that are expressed through the creative process, in this way events, worries or trauma, that the child finds it impossible to express in words are communicated to the therapist and allow a relationship of trust to be developed; from which, at the right time in the therapy cycle, the patient will be able to express their pain or worries in words.  From this base the therapist will explore with the child ways to develop coping mechanisms and move towards resolving psychological issues leading to social integration, growth and development. An example.  Maria had become increasingly with drawn since her mother went into hospital……  

Music Therapy: In keeping with the other ‘expressive therapies’ offered by KidsAid music therapy is delivered by qualified and experienced therapists.  The use of music in therapy is very well established and can have positive effects where other approaches might not be successful.  It is particularly useful where a child has difficulty communicating, for social, psychological or physical reasons.  Music therapy is, for example frequently employed to work with children on the Autistic spectrum.  Patients do not need existing musical skills or training, the purpose is not ‘performance’, but communication.  The therapist will use music as a means of engaging with the child patient and as  with other therapeutic models used at KidsAid the aim is to match the needs of the child to the appropriate approaches.  This enables the practitioner to both diagnose and address issues where the patient may not be able to verbalise the issues that are causing distress.

Drama Therapy:  Drama has been used in therapy for many years, it can be an individual or group activity, where clients explore issues of concern and address their understanding through the medium of activity and creative expression.  At KidsAid we only provide individual drama therapy for our child patients. As with all our work the aim is to facilitate a better understanding of the events and issues that are causing the child distress and in this way contribute to the long term mental health and well being of the individual.