Child Therapy: Parker was afraid; Now he's not.
Parker* was afraid all the time. He had been really sick and somehow that morphed into intense fear and anxiety. Parker was afraid to eat certain foods because he might get sick. He was afraid to swallow because it might make his throat hurt. He was afraid to sleep because his parents might disappear. Parker had more fear packed into his little 8-year-old body than a roomful of people like you and me put together.
Parker’s parents knew he didn’t have to be afraid all the time. They had heard about The Village counselors, so they made an appointment and brought him in. The first time Parker came to The Village, he looked like he was trying to disappear. He hid behind his parents and scrunched his body all in on itself. He wouldn’t make eye contact with his counselor Anna, as she tried to talk to him, and for several visits, he insisted his mom stay in the room with them. Using play – games, toys, and books – Anna slowly helped Parker peel back the layers of fear, one layer at a time. After a while, Parker’s mom was able to move to the other side of the room while he and Anna played on the other. And eventually he was comfortable enough for Mom to stay in the waiting room.
Anna taught Parker some tools he could use on his own to conquer his fears. One of the tools he learned was belly breathing. Anna lay down on the floor with Parker and showed him how to put his hands on his tummy, and feel his tummy move in and out as he breathed. Focusing on his breathing helped Parker calm his fears. Over the weeks and months, through seeing Anna and practicing the calming tools at home, Parker made a transformation.
The last time Parker came to see Anna, he breezed into the play therapy room, smiling, talkative and ready to play. When she asked him about being afraid, he said, “Yeah. Sometimes I’m afraid. But I put stuff in my worry box. Or I belly breathe, or blow bubbles. And then I forget.”
Parker was afraid. Now he’s not.
Parker’s story is just one example of the amazing work of Village professionals providing not only play therapy, but adolescent, family, and adult counseling services, pregnancy counseling, financial counseling and more.
*Parker’s name was changed to protect confidentiality.