Child Aware is located in Carina and Strathpine. Child Aware offers a high standard of professional service, qualified and trusted staff and convenient opening hours.
|Tuesday||10am – 7pm|
|Friday||8am – 5pm|
by Manaali Manoharan, Child Aware Creative Arts Therapist and Mental Health Professional
29 October 2020
Art therapy is a form of evidence-based psychotherapy, that utilises the creative process to help people explore self-expression and, in doing so, find new ways to gain personal insight and develop new coping skills.
As clients create art, they may analyse what they have made and how it makes them feel. Through exploring their art, people can look for themes and conflicts that may be affecting their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.
The purpose of art therapy is to tap into different parts of the brain using the imagination, metaphor, and images to gain new perspectives and solve problems in new ways.
Art-making and play are part of the first few skills we learn as a child. For most children, it is their way of making sense of the world around them. Art therapy does not rely on verbal communication and the art can sometimes speak for itself. This makes it a great approach with clients that may have special needs or disability. In this way, we can work with the strengths of a client rather than their limitations.
Some art therapy tools include:
Different people benefit from different therapies. It is important to find the right fit. If you are open to accessing your creative side, then art therapy is for you. Simple as that.
People do not need to have artistic ability or special talent and people of all ages including children, teens, and adults can benefit from it.
Art therapy is versatile. The great part about it is that it can be interwoven and changed, to fit in with any framework. It can be used with other therapies to provide evidence-based approaches, suitable for working with a client’s challenges.
Art therapists usually personalise sessions for clients, depending on their unique needs. However, a session may look like this:
Art therapists are trained professionals that have completed a minimum level of a Master’s programme in the field. Some professionals may have additional training in social work, psychology or counselling.
Contact reception via phone, email or via the booking page to book a session with Manaali.
by Kate McLisky
Everyone experiences anxiety to some degree and a small amount of anxiety is productive. For example, worry about being late can help us to get out of bed in the morning, and worry about our health might help us to make healthier lifestyle choices. These examples of anxiety are very different, however, from the way we have come to view anxiety today. Anxiety becomes problematic when it begins to impair your day-to-day life, and becomes overwhelming or distressing. Anxiety in children can be grouped into four main types:
Social anxiety describes worry about social interactions and usually focuses on others’ judgment of them. Social anxiety is different from shyness, in that it will cause more distress and is characterised by avoidance of social events such as speaking in front of others; going to parties or social events; eating, drinking or writing in front of others or waiting in line.
Separation anxiety is the common and normal fear of being away from parents or carers. Separation anxiety usually begins at around 8 months and reaches its peak around 14-18 months. It usually goes away gradually throughout early childhood, although sometimes continues into middle childhood.
Generalised anxiety includes worry about lots of things: health, schoolwork, school or sports performance, money, parents’ emotional states, personal safety or world events. Children with generalised anxiety may feel the need to be perfect and can be highly critical of themselves when they do not attain their high expectations of themselves.
Specific phobias. These commonly include fear of animals, insects, blood, heights, closed spaces, the dark or flying.
Where there is anxiety, there is always avoidance. When an individual feels anxious or uncomfortable, it is natural to attempt to rid oneself of fear. Avoidance happens to be the most effective short-term method of relieving anxiety available to most people. Someone who is afraid of dogs, for example, may feel fear when they see a dog. A natural reaction is to move away from the dog, which will instantly eliminate their fear. In the long-term, however, anxiety will grow each time the person is near a dog and, because the child is not learning that the dog might not be scary and that their anxiety will naturally decrease over time, their fear is validated and reinforced.
How can I help?
Anxiety grows in avoidance in the same way mould grows in the dark and damp! The most effective way to help an anxious child is to allow them to have safe, graduated exposure to the source of their fear until the fear decreases naturally and without avoidance. Small steps towards facing their fear are rewarded and repeated until no anxiety occurs when a stimulus is presented. For example, a child with a phobia of dogs might begin by looking at a picture of a dog, then work toward seeing a dog from a distance, standing near a dog holding a parent’s hand, patting a small or friendly dog on a leash holding a parent’s hand, and finally patting a dog on their own.
Effective treatment of anxiety is available for children and is best supported by a psychologist or counsellor.
by Kate McLisky, Child Aware Psychologist
8th August 2019
Positive reinforcement is an integral part of behaviour management in children and is known to be one of the most effective tools for promoting behaviour change in children. Positive reinforcement is defined as introducing a reinforcing stimulus following a desired behaviour. For example, praise, a hug, a high-five, a treat, more playtime, a sticker or token as part of a reward system.
The first step to utilising positive reinforcement effectively is deciding, clearly, which behaviour you would like to see change. If you would like your child to begin eating a wider variety of foods, for example, you might set a goal to try one new food per day, or to eat something green every night at dinner.
Positive reinforcement is not a cure-all, however, and will not be effective if it is used incorrectly. The following guidelines might help you to understand the best way to utilise positive reinforcement:
For positive reinforcement to remain effective, it needs to be atypical enough that the child is motivated by it. If the positive reinforcement provided is verbal praise, but your child receives verbal praise for every task they complete (whether or not they have done well), it will become “white noise” for your child and stimulate little excitement in them, reducing its effectiveness.
Because all tasks require varying levels of effort and ability, they should be responded to accordingly.
If your target behaviour is healthier eating, for example, don’t use “treat” or junk food to reinforce their eating behaviours. This is sending the child mixed messages and could be confusing for them and counter-productive for you!
Just because something is considered a “reward”, doesn’t mean you need to go above and beyond your means. Children are often most responsive to having the attention, affection and connection with their parents. A reward can be anything from a hug to reading a book, jumping on the trampoline, playing a board game or drawing a picture together. Further, remember that many of the activities kids take for granted (watching tv, time on their devices, weekend or after school activities) can be considered rewards.
I don’t want my child to think the only reason they should do something is to get a reward – I want them to do it because they see the value in it!
This is a common concern cited by parents and caregivers. Of course, no one wants their child to grow up with the expectation that they will be instantly rewarded for every mundane task they complete – as we know, life doesn’t work that way! What positive reinforcement does provide, however, is the motivation for children to complete an otherwise undesirable task. Over time, these tasks become a part of the child’s routine, and the resistance around completing these tasks will naturally diminish.
An effective behaviour management system is dynamic and responsive to a child’s development. As behaviours are successfully incorporated into a routine, the focus shifts to new target behaviours. This process allows children to develop the self-discipline to complete a task despite a lack of intrinsic motivation.
If you need support in managing challenging behaviours in your children book now to work together.
by Annika Heidel, Child Aware Psychologist
We have a furry new staff member at Child Aware! Nala will be working with Annika two days per week (Tuesday & Thursday) at the Strathpine office.
Nala is a Labrador breed known for their gentle nature, they are eager to please, calm, patient and affectionate dogs which are well suited to young children, adults and families. Nala was selected as a pet therapy dog due to her strong connection with humans and her calming nature. She loves to play fetch, do tricks and get belly rubs. Nala is a trained and certified therapy dog, she also attends regular obedience training through the canine classroom.
Pet Assisted Therapy (also known as Animal Assisted Therapy, AAT) is a growing segment within counselling, occupational therapy and rehabilitation services. With pet-assisted therapy, practitioners may work with dogs, horses or other domestic animals to assist with their interventions to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning. In the session, the therapy dog may simply sit with the client to ease their distress or help to role model therapy goals such as emotion regulation, social connections, communication skills, attachments or empathy. Pet assisted therapy can be used to assist with anxiety, depression, trauma, self-esteem, behavioural problems and relationships. It can also be useful to improve motivation for attendance with clients reluctant to engage in therapy. Children and adults with emotional or social problems can relate to animals due to their non-threatening, non-judgmental approach, unconditional attention and affection. Therapy pets may help clients to build trust and rapport, the animal can assist with attention and engagement and can help decrease stress and anxiety.