Kathleen Bufford, MA-LMFTKathleen Bufford, MA-LMFTWest Linn, OR

Children's Therapy

My office is filled with numerous toys and play therapy aids––such as art, books that the children and I read together, story-telling techniques, sand tray, and games. Perhaps the best known form of treatment that I use with children is Child-Centered Play Therapy.

Child centered play therapy is one of, if not the most widely used form of treatment for kids. It involves letting the child self-select whatever toy or book looks interesting, and presumes that through play the child will express the emotions and thoughts that are driving the problem. Play therapy helps reduce the level of distress, as the child is able to express feelings in a safe and confidential environment. Often the child will use play therapy to "solve" a problem with encouragement from the therapist––eg., by deciding how to talk to a doll or "fireman" about a problem, and thus resolve a real life problem.

Ecosystemic therapy incorporates the skills and principles of play therapy, but is guided more by the therapist who evaluates what is needed either in the academic or social or family system, as well as within the child’’s own developmental, cognitive and emotional make-up. Using Eco-systemic therapy, with input from the child, from the parents, and at times from the school, the pediatrician or others, I evaluate which domains need the most help and prescribe accordingly. Often that "prescription" involves handing the child a particular toy, book, etc., and in so doing, shaping the therapy session.

More often than not I will offer some level of parent-coaching in a way that maintains confidentiality for the child, but that also gives the parent tools for ongoing resolution of similar problems, and for continued use once the child has completed therapy.

Additional Diagnostic and Treatment Tools

EMDR, is used with children to process both the large, significant traumas that are easily identified and the smaller traumas that can be overlooked by adults. EMDR is also helpful in generating inner confidence that the child can successfully resolve life problems.

Testing is available for cognitive, brain-based strengths and weaknesses, with prescriptions for strengthening areas of weakness––eg. eye exercises that help the brain comprehend complex structures.

Work with adolescents often has a forward look as well as looking at the present. Forward looks encourage the adolescent to ask not only "does what I am doing work for me now?" But to also ask "where am I headed?" And "will this work for me...(in the future)?"