How do I know if my child needs play therapy?

If your child has undergone any traumatic events, such as divorce, crime related trauma and death in the family, then play therapy is necessary. Sometimes, there is a clinical condition that is noticeable, such as anxiety or depression. However, at times there are no specific triggers or trauma or clinical conditions. Parents get concerned when children are acting out of character for no discernible reason. If parents are unsure as to what is causing a child distress a child psychologist will initially conduct an emotional assessment to determine what the child is going through on an emotional level. The assessment usually takes place over four sessions and the observations which form a consistent theme for the child are noted. It is necessary to get to the root cause of the child’s behavioural difficulties so as to be able to assist the child. Often the child’s behavior is a manifestation of underlying difficulties in their environment, such as issues at school, with friends  or at home.
After the emotional assessment, a meeting between the child’s parents and the child psychologist takes place whereby all the themes pertinent to the child are discussed. Thereafter, play therapy, if deemed necessary, is conducted with regular parental feedback. Regular contact between the child psychologist and parents is essential to help families turn destructive behavior patterns into positive ones and to assist parents with specific difficulties such as their child’s anxiety and so forth.

Generally, if your child demonstrates: regression, acting-out tendencies, low mood, soiling, issues related with eating, excessive tantrums and challenging behaviour that are not age appropriate, worries and fears, anger, school related difficulties such as not making friends or getting bullied, withdrawal behavior etc. it will be prudent to consult a child psychologist.

What are assessments?

Assessments are a range of tests that psychologists use to determine a child’s strengths and specific difficulties and/or vulnerabilities that children may be experiencing.  Assessments usually offer the answers to behavior that does not make sense, such as avoiding home-work, poor school grades, low motivation  and so forth.  Cristine works with an Educational Psychologist at Bryanwood Therapy and Assessment Centre to conduct the evaluations. Children from three  years of age can be assessed.  
For young children, developmental assessments are undertaken. Their  developmental status is determined by measuring the child against their specific age.  Areas looked at are fine- and gross-motor abilities, speech and language skills and so forth. It is often very important to start relevant therapies as early as possible before children reach formal schooling if difficulties are noted. Between the ages of three to five potential difficulties start getting noticed by teachers and parents. During this age group developmental assessments become especially relevant in diagnosing pervasive developmental disorders and autism.

Psycho-educational assessments are conducted on older children (6 years +). They may be necessary for school readiness purposes, so as to enquire whether a child will be best suited for Grade 0 or Grade 1 placement. School Readiness assessments at Bryanwood Therapy and Assessment Centre are comprehensive as it includes an emotional component and takes place on a one to one basis.

For children who are not coping at school or are not getting adequate grades and don’t enjoy school a psycho-educational assessment is essential. The first test that is conducted is an IQ test. These tests provide valuable information for understanding how children learn and why they may not be making progress at school.  The IQ test consist of four components: A Verbal Index which is a measure of spoken language ability. The Nonverbal Index is a measure of visual-spatial ability whereby the score shows how the child performed on puzzle- and pattern- based tests. The Processing Speed Index shows how the child performed on two paper-and-pencil tasks that test how quickly children can process and respond to visual information. The Working Memory Index shows how a child did on tests remembering and repeating back strings of numbers and letters. The information that the IQ scores give can be used to do the following:

  1. Give an accurate picture of what can be expected from the child educationally;
  2. Separate out types of learning difficulties or rule out learning difficulties;
  3. Understand the impact of patterns of ability on learning.

The second component of a psycho-educational assessment is the scholastic testing. Tests of educational functioning cover skills taught in the classroom. Here the tests determine at what level a child is functioning with regards to Reading, Reading Comprehension, Spelling, Writing and Mathematics. It is often important for the psychologist to look at all these skills in order to evaluate the child’s pattern of strengths and weaknesses. 

The third component of a psycho-educational assessment is the emotional component. A thorough assessment is garnered in terms of a child’s emotional well-being. An emotional assessment is especially important for children with difficulties at school as there is a correlation between poor grades and emotional issues such as self-esteem issues, depression and so forth.

Other assessments that are conducted at Bryanwood Therapy and Assessment Centreare Vocational/Career Assessments, Assessments for Extra-Time for Grade 11 and 12 learners and Subject-Choice.

Read more More about therapy here.....


Other Difficulties
Attention Deficit Disorder
Conduct Disorder
Death and Bereavement
Elimination Disorders
Exam Stress
Learning Difficulties
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Self-esteem issues
Social and Peer difficulties

Withdrawal Behaviour

Child Therapy
Play Therapy



 Child Psychologist - Home
 Contact Cristine Scolari
 Common Difficulties
 Therapy & Assessments
Copyright © Cristine Scolari 2009