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Horizon Counseling Services | Therapist for Mental Health in Utah

Exploring 20 Types of Therapy for Children and Their Myriad Benefits

Crystalyn Hori-Wilson
Crystalyn Hori-Wilson

Hi, I've been working in mental health for 11 years and have worked with people of all ages, families, couples, and individuals. I'm currently focusing on women's issues and anxiety disorders.

Table of Contents

Children’s mental and emotional well-being is paramount in today’s complex world. Peer pressure, familial problems, social dynamics, and personal hardships can all adversely affect a child’s psychological development. Child therapy has developed into a dynamic and diversified subject since it is essential to address these issues at an early age. In this article, 20 types of treatment designed specifically for children are described in detail, along with their distinct tenets, uses, and advantages.

Play Therapy

Play therapy is one of the most popular and successful therapy for kids. Play therapy is based on the idea that children naturally communicate via play and offers a non-threatening, symbolic way to convey their feelings, ideas, and experiences. Kids can investigate and handle their feelings, cultivate problem-solving, and establish constructive coping strategies using diverse play methodologies, including storytelling, puppetry, and creative play. Additionally, the therapeutic alliance that develops between the kid and the therapist during play promotes emotional control, empathy, and trust.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

For both adults and children, cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, has become the gold standard in psychiatric treatment. CBT seeks to recognize and alter maladaptive cognitive processes and behaviours that fuel emotional discomfort. It is based on the idea that our ideas, feelings, and behaviours are interrelated. CBT methods are modified for children based on their cognitive capacities and developmental stage. Children pick up constructive coping mechanisms, learn to question unreasonable ideas and identify negative thought patterns through age-appropriate activities and structured sessions. CBT gives kids the tools they need to manage stress, anxiety, and other emotional difficulties for the rest of their lives by enabling them to take charge of their thoughts and behaviours.

Art Therapy

Children’s natural creativity can be used as a potent tool for self-expression and healing through art therapy. Kids may express their ideas and feelings concretely through art mediums, including collage, painting, drawing, and sculpture. Children can safely explore complicated emotions, digest painful events, and gain insight into their inner world through producing art. The therapist also acts as a helpful mentor, assisting kids in deciphering their artwork and drawing connections between their ideas and feelings. Art therapy provides a holistic approach to healing that incorporates sensory, emotional, and cognitive experiences in addition to verbal communication.

Animal-Assisted Therapy

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) promotes psychological and emotional recovery by using the special relationship between people and animals. Kids can feel safe, comfortable, and accepted without reservation through their relationships with horses, dogs, cats, or other animals. It has been demonstrated that the presence of animals lowers stress, anxiety, and sadness while raising emotions of happiness, camaraderie, and empathy. Animals act as nonjudgmental companions in therapeutic settings, helping kids open up, express their feelings, and trust the therapy process. Moreover, youngsters can develop their empathy, responsibility, and social skills by engaging in activities like strolling, feeding, and caring for animals.

Music Therapy

Using the universal language of music, music therapy helps children with various emotional, cognitive, and behavioural problems. Children can utilize music to foster emotional control, self-expression, and relaxation through multiple forms of engagement, such as listening, playing instruments, singing, or composing. Music therapists customize their interventions to meet each kid’s individual needs and preferences. They use rhythm, melody, harmony, and lyrics to elicit particular feelings and support therapeutic objectives. Apart from its emotional advantages, music therapy can also improve communication skills, increase cognitive functioning, and promote social connection among kids from different backgrounds and abilities.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) aims to assist kids in acquiring the abilities necessary to engage in daily activities and become more independent. Occupational therapists help kids with difficulties with fine motor skills, sensory processing, visual perception, and self-care while they dress, eat, write, or play. Children develop better motor coordination, sensory integration, and executive functioning skills through play-based therapies and structured activities. Additionally, occupational therapists work in conjunction with educators, parents, and other professionals to establish safe spaces that encourage kids’ participation in and success with a variety of daily activities.

Speech Therapy

Children’s speech, language, and communication difficulties must be treated with speech therapy. Various communication issues, including articulation, fluency, voice, and comprehension, are evaluated and treated by speech therapists. These issues can adversely affect an individual’s quality of life, social relationships, and academic achievement. Children can improve their speech quality, broaden their vocabulary, and develop social communication skills with targeted therapy sessions. Additionally, speech therapists work in conjunction with teachers and caregivers to establish environments that foster communication and promote kids’ language development and academic success.

Family Therapy

Children’s mental health and overall well-being are influenced by their family ties. In family therapy, this influence is recognized. Family therapy incorporates the whole family structure into the treatment process instead of concentrating on the individual child. To assist families in resolving conflict, stress, and dysfunction, family therapists analyze family dynamics, communication styles, and relational patterns. As a result of problem-solving, open communication, and active listening, families can resolve issues, enhance communication, and forge more profound and lasting ties. Additionally, family therapy gives parents and other caregivers the tools they need to provide safe, caring environments that support their kids’ overall happiness, sense of security, and self-worth.

Drama Therapy

Through theatrical expression, drama therapy helps children heal, grow, and discover who they are. Children can explore their ideas, feelings, and experiences in a secure and encouraging setting via improvisation, role-playing, storytelling, and creative expression. Drama therapists use various methods and activities to excite kids in pretend play, character development, and expressing their emotions. Children can learn about their feelings, grow in empathy for others, and practice problem-solving techniques by taking on various roles and viewpoints. Furthermore, children are encouraged to speak, work together, and form meaningful connections with their peers through the collaborative aspect of drama therapy.

Wilderness Therapy

Incorporating nature-based activities for children is the distinctive approach to healing and personal development that wilderness therapy provides. Through outdoor adventure activities such as rock climbing, hiking, camping, and so on, kids get hands-on experience that fosters resilience, self-discovery, and social skills. With its ability to provide children with opportunities for introspection, reflection, and a sense of connectedness to the natural world, the natural environment is a potent background for therapeutic interventions. Children are encouraged to face difficulties, overcome barriers, and gain a sense of mastery and success through the facilitation of group conversations, team-building activities, and reflection exercises by wilderness therapists. Additionally, the companionship and assistance of classmates and qualified staff members foster a caring environment where kids can feel understood, welcomed, and empowered to make life-improving decisions.

Behavior Therapy

Behaviour therapy utilizes scientifically validated methods to target maladaptive behaviours and encourage constructive behavioural modifications in kids. Behaviour therapists employ learning theory concepts to identify the root causes of behaviour and provide focused interventions to change it, whether the behaviour is anxiety, anger, resistance, or tantrums. Children learn to substitute more adaptive behaviours for maladaptive ones through systematic desensitization, token economies, and positive reinforcement. To reinforce desired behaviours and reduce triggers for problem behaviours, behaviour therapists work with parents, teachers, and other caregivers to establish consistency and structure in children’s environments. Additionally, behaviour therapy teaches kids critical self-management skills that they can use in a variety of situations throughout their lives, enabling them to actively participate in changing their behaviour.

Dance/Movement Therapy

Using the expressive potential of movement, dance/movement therapy (DMT) helps children with their emotional, mental, and physical health. Children can use their bodies to explore and express their feelings, ideas, and experiences through planned routines, structured movement activities, or spontaneous dance. Dance therapists offer a secure and nurturing environment where kids may move freely, try out various movement techniques, and establish a connection with their inner selves. Children can relieve stress, become more aware of their bodies, and release tension through the tactile and rhythmic experiences of dance. Additionally, dance/movement therapy promotes emotional resilience and holistic well-being by encouraging self-expression, self-confidence, and a sense of community.

Equine Therapy

Equine therapy promotes personal development and emotional healing through the special relationship between horses and people. In the company of these gentle giants, children can feel a profound connection, trust, and empathy, whether riding, grooming, or interacting with them on the ground. By watching children’s interactions with the animals and directing them through experiential tasks that foster self-awareness, communication, and emotional control, equine therapists employ horses as co-facilitators in the therapeutic process. Children may express themselves honestly in horse-human encounters since they are nonverbal and don’t have to worry about being rejected or judged. Additionally, the calming effects of horseback riding’s rhythmic motions on the neurological system, reduction of anxiety, and enhancement of focus and attention.

Neurofeedback Therapy

A non-invasive, drug-free method for treating children’s neurological and behavioural issues is neurofeedback therapy. Children can learn to regulate their brain functioning and attain optimal arousal and attention with neurofeedback therapists who monitor and modulate brainwave activity in real time. Children can learn to self-regulate and adjust their brain activity by receiving feedback on their brainwave patterns during neurofeedback sessions through visual or audio signals. Neurofeedback training can enhance attention span, focus, impulse control, and emotional regulation in the long run. In addition, neurofeedback therapy provides a customized and all-encompassing method of treatment by treating the neurological underlying causes of symptoms associated with anxiety, ADHD, autism, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy provides a comprehensive strategy for enhancing children’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Yoga therapy, which has its roots in traditional yogic teachings, uses breathwork, mindfulness, and gentle movement to treat a variety of conditions, such as stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma. With the help of asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing methods), and relaxation exercises, yoga therapists customize yoga practices to each child’s specific needs and talents. Children can benefit from consistent practice, such as better self-control, heightened body awareness, and higher emotional resilience. Additionally, yoga therapy creates a sense of community and connection, giving kids a safe space to discover and take care of their inner selves.

Mindfulness-Based Therapy

Children can benefit from a realistic and efficient method of enhancing mental health and lowering stress levels: mindfulness-based therapy. This therapy method, rooted in mindfulness meditation techniques, teaches kids how to develop present-moment awareness, accepting themselves without judgment, and compassionate self-care. Children can learn to control their emotions, cope with stress, and develop inner peace by practising mindfulness skills, including guided imagery, body scans, and mindful breathing. Children who receive treatment from mindfulness-based therapists are equipped with practical skills and techniques that they can use to overcome obstacles more easily and resiliently. Additionally, mindfulness-based treatment fosters compassion, kindness, and healthy interpersonal relationships, which paves the way for a lifetime of emotional stability and personal development.

Sensory Integration Therapy

Children who struggle to process and react to sensory information can benefit from sensory integration therapy. Sensory integration therapists help children learn to better control and integrate sensory information from their surroundings, regardless of whether the kid is hypersensitive, hypersensitive, or engages in sensory-seeking activities. Children can learn to efficiently respond to and adjust to various sensory inputs through therapeutic play, structured sensory activities, and environmental alterations. Sensory integration therapy aims to improve children’s quality of life and overall functioning by fostering self-regulation and enhancing their ability to integrate sensory information. Additionally, as children learn to navigate the sensory world more quickly and competently, sensory integration treatment gives them a sense of mastery and confidence.

Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy is a comprehensive and hands-on method for helping kids develop their self-awareness and personal development. Gestalt therapy is based on existential and phenomenological ideas and encourages children to concentrate on their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the here and now. Gestalt therapists assist children in exploring their inner conflicts, unresolved emotions, and unfinished business through a range of experiential approaches, including role-playing, empty chair work, and creative expression. Children can experience emotional healing and transformation and acquire insight into their behavioural patterns and self-compassion development through awareness, acceptance, and integration. Additionally, gestalt therapy helps children develop a feeling of agency and empowerment, enabling them to accept accountability for their decisions and bring about significant change in their life.

Narrative Therapy

Through narrative therapy, children can be empowered and given a collaborative approach to fostering resilience and personal agency. Narrative therapists assist children with externalizing their issues, questioning prevailing narratives, and collaboratively crafting new, preferred narratives that reflect their values, strengths, and goals. Their approach is based on the idea that people write their own stories. Children can reinterpret their life experiences, regain their sense of identity, and find new opportunities for growth and healing via storytelling, metaphor, and re-authoring. Children who receive narrative therapy are given the skills and techniques necessary to overcome obstacles in life with imagination, ingenuity, and grit. Furthermore, narrative therapy helps kids understand that they are not alone in their problems and that their experiences matter by fostering a sense of connection and solidarity.


Child therapy is a diverse field with many approaches, each providing unique advantages, methods, and insights. There are numerous avenues for healing and development for kids with emotional, behavioural, or developmental difficulties, ranging from art therapy and animal-assisted therapy to play therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. Therapists can design customized solutions that respect each child’s individual strengths, interests, and experiences by identifying and attending to the different needs of children. It is imperative that we, as parents, guardians, and educators, speak up in favour of children’s mental health and well-being and work to provide them with the tools and resources they require to flourish. We can help children reach their full potential, develop resilience, and set out on a path of self-discovery and transformation by funding therapy for them.

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