Social therapy is built on the construct that children and individuals who have Cerebral Palsy. Thay can learn and benefit by interacting with others.Having positive interactions with others, whether within the family setting, at school, on the job, or with peers can be immensely important to a individual’s mental health and well-being.
Those with physical or cognitive challenges often face real, and sometimes self-imposed, difficulty in building relationships. Delays in social, emotional and even physical development can occur simply because a child is having difficulty communicating, fitting in, or feeling accepted. Emotional, attention and behavioral challenges can impede a child’s ability to learn, grow and develop.
Social therapy, a relatively new intervention pioneered in the late 1970s, helps children develop strategies to develop friendships as they grow older. This helps decrease a sense of loneliness, isolation and stress the child may be experiencing.
Social therapy is an intervention that is based on groups, and the role of an individual within that group. The therapy was developed to help an individual who is experiencing psychological issues or anxiety to regulate their emotions and build connections to others by participating in group therapeutic settings.
Common social issues those with Cerebral Palsy experience include:
- Emotional connectivity
The goals of social therapy are:
- Teaching children to learn through experiences with other people
- Encouraging positive social interactions and cooperation
- Helping children develop confidence
- Creating sustainable social environments for children
- Empowering a child to contribute to the group
- Eliminating physical and psychological barriers to social interaction
- Realizing the benefits and joy of interaction
The benefits of social therapy are numerous. Children are naturally curious and are hardwired to seek companionship. Social therapy capitalizes on that attribute. Psychologists who practice social therapy are able to build on natural social abilities and implement a roadmap towards success in social situations.
At the crux of social therapy is the idea that the individual develop emotionally and psychologically in a fluid manner that is rooted in relationships with others, and that these interactions form the core of a person’s ability to connect with others.
The psychological benefits of social therapy include:
- Enhancing relationships
- Developing personality
- Increasing creativity
- Increasing productivity
- Encouraging collaborative efforts
- Encouraging learning by example
- Increasing independence
- Enhancing self-regulation and coping skills
- Decreasing feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Enhancing social skills
- Encourages friendships
Sometimes, children with Cerebral Palsy often experience physical and psychological symptoms of social phobia, or an extreme, debilitating fear of social interaction that can cause a withdrawal from everyday life. Others are more isolated and protected from experiencing social settings.
Social therapy can help improve and alleviate:
- Increased heart beat
- Fear and anxiety
- Abnormal sleep
Social therapy not only provides the skills necessary for participation in a group setting, it encourages families and friends to provide the child with special needs the opportunities for personal interaction in group settings.