Transformation of Beliefs

Girl drawing back to schoolFrom the moment we are born, we are establishing behavioral responses, which eventually become belief and thought patterns. We also develop perceptions of ourselves and begin to develop ways to describe ourselves. Whether these thoughts are positive or negative to our being, on some level we accept them because there is comfort in their familiarity and they simply make sense to us. The thoughts and beliefs become our identity and we then live our lives in a manner that fits these thoughts and beliefs.

When a child first begins therapy, the therapist typical asks the parent to describe the child. The information is important because it gives us a sense of how the child is going about their daily life. In order to communicate the person’s function, we must put them into words and/or make observations. Based on how they interact and/or the description we provide of them, the environment gives them a response. These responses and interactions can solidify beliefs about who they are as a person and how the world sees them. It can also create a list of dislikes and likes that categorize them into what experiences they are willing to have on a daily basis. For instance, a child may be described as very intelligent, but has trouble paying attention. Another child may be described as wanting to play with other children, but becomes aggressive when a peer plays with their toy. Another child is great a school, but falls apart at home. Depending on how others respond to these perspectives or interactions will on some level effect the child’s perception of themselves. If the intelligent child is getting in trouble for not paying attention, they may perceive themselves as inadequate and become disinterested in school with a potential label of being “lazy”. The child that becomes aggressive over his toys may begin to play the role of a bully. The child “holding themselves together” at school may develop a high level of anxiety with a potential label as a “worry-wart”. As a result, the adults in the child’s life uses all sorts of strategies to dissolve the issue at hand and the effectiveness of these strategies can vary from child to child.

Often times, these children have sensory processing disorder, which is impacting their ability to process sensory information, which in turn impacts their interactions within their environments. They develop coping mechanism or adaptive responses in an effort to function in their environment. Addressing sensory-motor issues can help the child to better receive, integrate, and modulate sensory information. Research indicates that if organized sensory input is provided consistently over a period of time, that it will create changes to the nervous system, which will improve daily interaction and performance for the child.

Parents, families, teachers, and peers have a pre-established perception of the child. Although the child may be experiencing neurological changes, they too continue to have established thoughts forms and beliefs from their past experiences. It would be beneficial to point out the positive changes to your child. It would also be beneficial to have your child try activities that were perhaps not so successful in the past. They may find that they are enjoying activities that were originally aversive. It is also critical that the adults involved with your child recognize these changes and help them to manage any residual behavioral responses. It is important to consider re-establishing new thought forms in regards to how you interact with your child. Do you find yourself describing your child to others in the same way even though they are functioning differently? Do you need to adjust how you engage with them? Do you need to modify the level of support you are giving them? Are you expanding their opportunities for experiences? Now that they appear to be more organized, what are the next skills to develop and focus on? How can you support them while engaging with their peers?

Lastly, whether you are a therapist, teacher, or parent, we must also look at are own selves. Healthy families and communities all originate from a healthy individual. Identifying what labels you or the world have place on you, may help you to understand your own functioning, which in turn can allow you to address established beliefs that are no longer servicing you well. This can give you greater insight into your child and how you can better help them. We were all little infants, toddlers, and children at one point. Chances are your family wanted to the best for you and they wanted to you have a happy and meaningful life up to your last and final day. This concept of well-being is critical for all of us. By working on this for yourself, you can then model it for your child. That is why therapy is not just for your child. You as parents as well as other people in the community can also receive positive changes by being a part of the therapy process.

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The Therapeutic Experience

Building BlocksThere are some frequent questions that are brought up when your child needs therapy. The thought of therapy can leave the parents experiencing a variety of emotions, which we will touch upon is this conversation. For some parents, they come to find that their child has been diagnosed with a disability. For other parents, they feel a sense of frustration because they see their child has some difficulties that other may not feel are significant, but the parent feels are impacting the child’s self-esteem and their everyday functioning. So whether you are a parent that is hearing that your child needs therapy services or whether you are a parent desperately looking for a therapist that can help identify and address the concerns you are seeing in your child, initiating therapy services can create many anxieties. What are the long-term needs look like for your child? Who will help you help your child? How will these needs affect your family? How will these needs affect your ability to work? Who will support you? The beginning stages of this process can be quite overwhelming, but surrounding your child and your family with knowledgeable, caring, and committed persons can make all the difference.

The therapeutic experience is determined by its purpose and participation. It about learning your child and his/her needs and determining a plan in a calm, well thought out manner. It is about gathering therapeutic tools that will empower you as parents. This can include direct participation in therapy, reading a recommended book, utilizing a home program, or becoming part of a support group. It is about your child engaging in therapeutic experiences that give them a better sense of themselves, which in turn creates more purposeful interactions in their functional settings.

Therapy is most beneficial when all parties are working in the best interest of your child. It is human nature for us to pass judgments on the way we approach difficulties or come up with solutions. When there are a variety of professionals in your family’s life, it is important for all of us to work towards solutions in a collaborative manner. The more balance there is between approaches, the better quality of the efforts.

Often times, children are getting services from a variety of sources and the professionals may not realize your other commitments. You may also have other family obligations such as activities for siblings or work commitments. As you begin to gather professional recommendations, there are many factors that need to be considered. The recommendations are based on the assessment of the child’s level of functioning and your concerns. As parents, you are the driving force behind determining what your child needs. Deciding to participate in therapy and for how long are difficult decisions to make. The therapy should be family-directed and should focus on the areas that you find to be of concern. It is important that you keep an open communication during the therapy process to ensure that your family’s needs are being met and that your child is benefiting from the selected therapies.

Throughout the therapy experience, progress on goals and annual re-evaluations will help to determine modifications that need to be made in your child’s plan of care. Changes can also be made at any time, but establishing times to closely examine the plan of care will ensure that your child’s needs are being met. In addition, evaluations are important because they give us a baseline to determine if your child’s skills are falling within a range similar to his/her peers. The scores will help the professional determine areas of concern including concerns that may not have been noticed by observation.

Therapy can be a wonderful and beneficial experience. It can empower you as a parent by providing you with the knowledge and tools to help your child succeed. Therapy can help your child to develop a better sense of themselves and help them to foster their strengths while supporting them through their difficulties. Therapy can help them to develop needed skills to participate in daily activities. My goal is to create a positive and beneficial therapeutic experience for your family.

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