Who loves writing Diagnostic Assessments?
Okay - so I don’t exactly LOVE to write the assessment, but I love the unfolding of information of the unique circumstances that led to the development of client symptoms that led them to therapy.
Let’s dive into one of my favorite topics - A.K.A. trauma and emotional regulation - Part Two!
In this blog HERE I touched on Adaptive Information Processing Theory (AIP Model) to help get an understanding of why trauma memories are stored and processed differently, and how this memory storage relates to difficulty with being triggered in the here and now!
If you are just tuning in - definitely go back and read that article firstHERE!
Okay - now let’s get into another important piece to the puzzle for how trauma impacts emotional regulation - Polyvagal Theory!
One of the most important sessions you can have with a child, teen, or really any human entering the therapy process is the intake session. It is during this session you get to know each other, know a bit more about the process, but most importantly begin to get curious about early life, situations, circumstances, and trauma that could have an impact on the presenting problem.
Anger is complex.
And something that is a right brain process can be hard to articulate and describe. Especially if you are a child who isn’t quiiiite fully developed in their prefrontal cortex.
Okay - talking about anger is tough for grownups too.
Sometimes depression can feel like a dark, dreary, rainy day.
Deep pain and sadness, being numb, anger and irritability, and no motivation. Kids and teens that don’t want to go out to see their friends, have no energy and focus, and don’t even ask them to do their homework.
Do you have the book Hey Warrior?
Well… if you know, you know and you can feel free to skip through this post.
BUT if this book isn’t in your collection I wanted to share the 5 reasons it is an absolute must for play therapists for emotional regulation!
Feelings come and feelings go.
This concept can actually be quite hard for kids who haven’t gotten used to the rollercoaster their emotions can take. AND paired with brain development sometimes it feels like the sad, mad, and anxious feelings will last foreeevvver!
The good news - they don’t!
Did you know that a foundational part of emotional regulation is not stopping dysregulation in its tracks, but instead completing the stress cycle?
In the simplest terms our systems need more than just tools to stop the progression of big emotions, they need to learn to ride the wave of emotion and bring their stress response into completion.
How often do you ask clients to identify feelings and get met with “I don’t know”?
Or the ever popular “nothing”.
For most types of therapy and play therapy including Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy, Child Centered Play Therapy and EMDR a core part of the process is to help kids know themselves better, identify their feelings, and work to notice where these feelings come up in their bodies.
The struggle is real in play therapy.
Bad guys getting arrested, a tea party getting crashed, and a cow that has wandered away from its family in the barn and can’t find its way back.
Ya know - just a regular Tuesday in the playroom!
I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC,