Psychotherapeutic treatment of children and adolescents in creative relational family therapy
Relational Family Therapy understands the family as a system in which family members are interconnected and influence one another. Children’s behaviour is understood as a response to systemic needs, therefore it is important for children to be included in the therapy to ensure systemic changes. For adults and older children, support in the form of a talk in psychotherapy can alleviate hardship; however, such support is not sufficient for younger children, or in those children who are growing up in violence, or experience abuse or painful separation from their parents. These children often block their feelings and have little knowledge of how to express them. Whatever bad things happen to them, they feel responsible and blame themselves. Since they do not yet know how to cognitively distinguish what is and what is not true about themselves, they can have false beliefs about themselves. Children who suppress their emotions do not feel good and have problems getting in touch with others, which can be reflected in behavioural, emotional and unexplained health problems. In order to get in touch with others and express their blocked emotions, they must first feel their body and be aware of their feelings, for which they need psychotherapeutic support. The therapist helps them express their emotions that are not accessible solely through verbal communication. In order to do this, the therapist uses creativity and includes various therapeutic techniques and strategies that are experiential, suitable for the child’s development stage, and child friendly: projection photography, drawing, sandplay, puppets, family genograms, and clay. In the article we will present clinical practice and various creative ways that bring new experiences in the therapeutic process and enable children to change their ways of thinking, feeling and behaviour, and enable parents to understand and connect with children. The workshop will be experiential. Participants will be able to integrate theory into practice and try different creative techniques themselves. Acquired practical knowledge and personal experience can help psychotherapeutic treatment of children and adolescents and their families.