Kris’ Corner – Types of Therapy

August 12, 2021

So…one of the things you may have heard (or experienced if you’re already a foster parent) is that kids in care will probably need therapy of some type. 

I won’t lie…I’m 99% certain that virtually every child entering foster care will need therapy at some point. The type may vary and it may not be long term…but therapy will be had. And I would even go so far as to say: if a child has not received therapy, he probably still needs it. 

Anyway…I don’t want this thought to be scary or frightening or intimidating in any way. Therapy is SO beneficial and it should not bear the stigma that it often does. 

That said, I want to give you a list (with brief descriptions) of some types of therapy that a child in your home may need. My child, with all his needs, has had several of them but by no means all. This is, in no way, an all-inclusive list…but at least one to get you started and hopefully take some of the fear and trepidation you may be feeling about therapy in general. Remember: knowledge is power. The more you know, the less fearful you can be. 

So here is my list, in no particular order: 

Occupational Therapy: helps people participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Common OT interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, or helping people recovering from injury to regain skills. 

Speech Therapy: the assessment and treatment of communication problems and speech disorders. It is performed by speech-language pathologists (SLPs), which are often referred to as speech therapists. It utilizes speech therapy techniques including articulation therapy, language intervention activities, and others depending on the type of speech or language disorder. 

Physical Therapy: therapy that aims to ease pain and help patients function, move, and live better. It may be needed to relieve pain, improve movement or ability, recover from an injury, prevent disability or surgery, work on balance to prevent a slip or fall, adapt to an artificial limb, splint or brace. 

Developmental Therapy: therapy which specifically looks at HOW a child is developing during the most significant period of development — birth through 5 years. Developmental therapists do not address one specific area but instead look at a child GLOBALLY (e.g., cognitive skills, language and communication, social-emotional skills and behavior, gross and fine motor skills, and self-help skills.). 

Talk Therapy: also known as psychotherapy, branches out in many different directions, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, humanistic therapy, and others. 

Play Therapy: used primarily for children, because children may not be able to process their own emotions or articulate problems to parents or other adults. Although people of all ages can benefit from play therapy, it’s typically used with children between the ages of 3 and 12. Play therapy may be helpful in a variety of circumstances, such as facing medical procedures, chronic illness, or palliative care; developmental delay or learning disabilities; problem behaviors in school; aggressive or angry behavior; family issues, like divorce, separation, or death of a close family member; traumatic events; domestic violence, abuse, or neglect; anxiety, depression or griefeating and toileting disorders; ADHD; and autism. 

Family Attachment Therapy: a type of family therapy in which a therapist helps a parent and a child repair ruptures in their relationship and work to develop or rebuild an emotionally secure relationship. Strong attachment between a child and the important adults in his life has long been believed to be the basis of lifelong good mental health as well as the mainstay of resilience in the face of adversity. Modern brain research and the field of neuroscience have shown that attachment is the way in which children come to understand, trust and thrive in their world. 

Music Therapy: the use of music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of a group or individual. It employs a variety of activities, such as listening to melodies, playing an instrument, drumming, writing songs, and guided imagery. 

Hippotherapy: is an approach to physical therapy where the patient rides horses in order to address physical health. 

Therapeutic Riding: focuses on addressing mental health, with patients caring for horses in a stable setting. This purpose of this equine-assisted activity is to contribute positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs. It also provides benefits in the areas of health, education, sport and recreation & leisure. 

Behavior Therapy: an umbrella term for types of therapy that treat a variety of mental health disorders. This form of therapy seeks to identify and help change potentially self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors. It functions on the idea that all behaviors are learned and that unhealthy behaviors can be changed. 

Recreational Therapy: utilizes interventions, such as arts and crafts, dance, or sports, to help their patients reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; recover basic physical and mental abilities; build confidence; and socialize effectively. 

Pool/aquatic Therapy: provides physical therapy and rehabilitation services in a pool or another aquatic environment. In this environment, patients regain their mobility, mitigate the impact of certain disabilities, and promote general health and wellness. 

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy: focuses on improving specific behaviors, such as social skills, communication, reading, and academics as well as adaptive learning skills, such as fine motor dexterity, hygiene, grooming, domestic capabilities, punctuality, and job competence. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy: a phased, focused approach to treating traumatic and other symptoms by reconnecting the client in a safe and measured way to the images, self-thoughts, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma, and allowing the natural healing powers of the brain to move toward adaptive resolution. 

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT): is conducted through “coaching” sessions during which parent and child are in a playroom while the therapist is in an observation room watching them interact through a one-way mirror and/or live video feed. The parent wears a “bug-in-the-ear” device through which the therapist provides in-the-moment coaching on skills the parent is learning to manage her child’s behavior. 

Sensory Integration Therapy: aims to help kids with sensory processing issues (which some people may refer to as “sensory integration disorder”) by exposing them to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive way. The idea behind it is that over time, the brain will adapt and allow kids to process and react to sensations more efficiently. 

Myofascial Release Therapy: a type of physical therapy often used to treat myofascial pain syndrome. Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder caused by sensitivity and tightness in your myofascial tissues. These tissues surround and support the muscles throughout your body. The pain usually originates from specific points within your myofascial tissues called “trigger points.” It focuses on reducing pain by easing the tension and tightness in the trigger points and often takes place during a massage therapy session. 

Craniosacral Therapy (CST): a gentle hands-on technique that uses a light touch to examine membranes and movement of the fluids in and around the central nervous system. Relieving tension in the central nervous system promotes a feeling of well-being by eliminating pain and boosting health and immunity. 

I am hopeful that this list does not overwhelm you…or discourage you if your child is in need of a therapy not on this list. As I mentioned above, this is by no means all-inclusive…it is simply a place to get you familiar with some the helps which are available to your child, should you (or he) have need.