Adjustment difficulties and socioemotional issues are relatively common in childhood. Young children are especially vulnerable to psychological problems due to limited perspectives and limited ability to communicate emotions verbally.
Play is the emotional language of children. It provides a forum for boys and girls to face their problems and conflicts in a symbolic arena that feels psychologically safer and permits children to express their true thoughts and feelings.
Play therapy is the preferred therapeutic approach for young children.
Psychodynamic play therapy provides a window into a child's inner world in a place safe from physical and psychological harm, where he or she can let their guard down sufficiently to explore thoughts, feelings, and life. Knowing what a child truly feels, thinks, and does can help them feel better and function better.
Psychodynamic play therapy seems to hold most value for certain types of problems. It is especially good at helping children with anxiety, depression, psychosis/thought disturbance, as well as those who need to reconcile themselves to limitations such as chronic illness or learning disabilities. It may not be a first choice for children who seek quick relief for a specific phobia or help managing a single life event.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been successfully used with a wide variety of concerns including children with diagnoses such as selective mutism, separation anxiety, and phobias.
Additionally, cognitive-behavioral therapy has been used with children who have experienced traumatic life events, such as physical and sexual abuse. Cognitive-behavioral therapy might be useful for children who need to learn how to control their emotions, cope with family changes such as divorce, or heal from a traumatic experience.