Kid-Friendly Therapies... THAT WORK!!


ü      How Does Your Engine Run? ®:   an innovative program that supports children, teachers, parents, and therapists to choose appropriate strategies to change or maintain optimal states of alertness. Increasing awareness of how important self-regulation is for basic functioning helps adults teach highly effective developmentally appropriate self-regulation skills to help children  independently recognize their own states of awareness and maintain their own level of optimal functioning. In June of 2003 the American Occupational Therapy Association recognized the contributions of co-authors, owners, and occupational therapists Sherry Shellenberger and Mary Sue Williams by honoring them with the "Excellence in Intervention, Development, and Dissemination" Award. (


ü      Handwriting Without Tears ®:  Developed by Occupational Therapist Jan Olsen to facilitate her own son’s handwriting, HWT is the leader in easy-to-learn, easy-to-teach, developmentally appropriate, and inclusive materials for preschool and elementary students throughout the U.S. In 2008 more than two million students learned to write successfully using the Handwriting Without Tears ® curriculum. The Get Set for School™ preschool program is used by thousands of public and private preschools to develop handwriting and other school readiness skills. Handwriting Without Tears ® has won two of the most prestigious national education awards: The Children’s Curriculum Winner from the Association for Educational Publishers and The Teacher’s Choice Award from Learning Magazine. (


ü      Brain Gym ®:  a nonprofit organization committed to the principle that intentional movement is the door to optimal living and learning, Brain Gym International (trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation) offers exercises that enhance and encourage midline crossing and cross-lateral motion to help to jump start the brain’s natural development for bilateral coordination (


ü      Play therapy: Allowing children to work through emotional conflicts through directed play with themes that develop coping strategies and positive problem solving skills offers children a safe medium for expressing feelings and both disclosing and describing negative or traumatic experiences. The use of toys enables children to transfer anxieties, fears, fantasies, and guilt to objects rather than people. In the process, children are safe from their own feelings and reactions because play enables children to distance themselves from traumatic events and experiences. (

ü      Somatic Sensation Therapy is much less threatening and anxiety provoking for children because the focus is on bodily sensations, rather than thoughts and memories about a traumatic event. By concentrating on what’s happening in their bodies children learn to recognize the very first physical signs of emotional stress and anxiety, which empowers them to relieve the signs of stress and release the accompanying stress-related energy and emotional tension.

ü      Light therapy – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) an accepted form of depression caused by the disruption of normal biorhythms (body temperature, alertness, appetite, sleep, hormone production, etc.) caused from lack of sunlight.   Those with more sensitive ‘internal clocks,’ such as women and young children, have a higher risk of experiencing the symptoms of stress, panic, and depression. Research has demonstrated that the right amount and type of light exposure in the early morning for 30 to 45 minutes is the most effective. (


ü       Color Imagery:  Color has been proven to have a profound impact on the mind and body. Art therapists have long recognized the association between color and feeling with children.  Color imagery allows the child to assign a preferred color to each personal emotion, with the intensity each emotion expressed by the intensity of color used:  vivid hues representing stronger emotions and lighter hues representing weaker emotions.  Intense emotions can brought to the surface in the form of color and image instead of words, giving voice to feelings that are not yet able to be expressed verbally.


ü      Mindfulness Training – Research has shown that mindfulness-based therapy has been used as successful treatments for stress, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and addiction.  Mindfulness Training can also help children to have an increased awareness of the present moment enhancing attention and focus, and improve memory, self-acceptance, self-management skills, and self-understanding. The mindfulness approach uses meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises to focus awareness on the present moment and break negative thought patterns. (


ü      Exercise:  Research on anxiety, depression and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood.  Exercise also improves self esteem and confidence, acts as an active distraction for negative thought patterns, and offers positive social interaction.   (


ü      Brain Wave Music:  innovative techniques for embedding brainwave audio processes into lush, multilayered, ambient musical soundtracks. After a few minutes of listening, your own brainwaves naturally “lock” onto these audio pulses, to lead you easily to the state of mind you want to experience. (


ü      Positive Thought Therapy:  In the development of positive thinking the most important principle is intercepting negative thoughts and substituting them with more reasonable, reassuring, and realistic thoughts.  The theory of Positive Thought Therapy is supported by research showing that patients engaged in cognitive therapy had changes just as marked on the PET scan as patients taking Prozac, proving that positive thinking on its own can change the way your brain functions (

ü      Meridian Tapping:  Meridian Tapping Therapy involves rhythmic tapping on the same energy meridian points on the face, torso and wrists that are utilized for acupuncture and acupressure therapy.  Coupled with specific verbal affirmations, meridian tapping is thought to relieve anxiety and stress by slowing down beta (high energy) waves and increasing alpha (low energy / relaxation) brain waves. (


ü      Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses essential oils and similar aromatic compounds from plants, for the purpose of improving a person's mood, cognitive function or health. Preliminary scientific evidence is growing in all these areas.   The scent of lavender, for example, has been found to directly reduce beta waves, thus reducing stress and promoting calmness.  Studies have shown lavender to help Alzheimer patients remain calm, relaxed, and focused; and to alleviate anxiety and stress in intensive care patients.   ( 


ü      Massage:  Massage has been proven to reduce emotional tension by inducing relaxation and relieving stress-related cardio-vascular conditions.  Massage improves the blood circulation in several ways without putting additional strain on the heart. Massage treatment has been shown to be an effective treatment to help teenagers hospitalized for depression feel less anxious and more co-operative, with lowered pulse rates and lower levels of cortisol ( a chemical produced under stress) in their saliva. (


ü      Color Therapy is based on the Luscher Color Diagnostic test that measures a person’s ability to withstand stress, to perform, and to communicate through their response to color; and the Ayuveda belief that different centers of physical and emotional function (chakras) are governed by color energy.  Color therapy therefore suggests that emotional and physical well being can be stimulated by exposure to color.  Some empirical evidence has been found to support physiological and emotional reactions to different colored rays.


ü      Biofeedback:  Biofeedback empowers the patient to exert control over involuntary muscle and brain wave activities, measured by EEGs, through training the body to react to its own signals. This treatment has been shown to relieve symptoms among many sufferers of depression. The most prominent use of biofeedback in the United States is for anxiety disorders and stress management. (


ü      Diet:  Yes, there is really is a link between diet and depression, especially with  vitamin B and C deficiencies:  lack of Vitamin B1 leads to fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, memory problems; lack of Vitamin B3 leads to Pellagra, a vitamin deficiency disease known to cause dementia, agitation and anxiety; lack of Vitamin B5 leads to fatigue, chronic stress, and depression; lack of Vitamin B6 leads to mental confusion; lack of vitamin B12 leads to pernicious anemia, which causes mood swings, paranoia, irritability, confusion, dementia, and hallucinations; and lack of folate and Vitamin C puts people at risk for depression and heart disease (


ü      Reflexology:  Massaging, stroking, tapping, or applying pressure to the same energy meridian points in the hands and feet used for acupuncture and acupressure releases tension that blocks the flow of energy and stimulates the circulation of blood and the lymphatic system, resulting in the release of endorphins, the natural “feel good” hormones so effective in relieving anxiety and stress. NOTE:  Reflexology is supposed to be a relaxing experience. It will not work on those who really do not really like having their hands or feet touched!  Studies have shown strong support for foot reflexology massage as an effective nursing intervention to reduce depression and stress responses, and to strengthen immune systems. (


ü      Forgiveness:  Research has shown us that the development of compassion and empathy in young children is directly related to their ability to forgive. The Stanford Forgiveness Projects are a series of research studies that investigate the effectiveness of group psycho-education forgiveness methods.  Curriculum focused on the emotional capacity, functional coping skills, and cognitive reasoning necessary for forgiveness as an effective approach to help young children cope with anger and learn positive conflict resolution strategies, with an ultimate goal of resolving and releasing negative emotions, results in improved emotional and physical well being.  (