Alternatives to Therapy

Martial Arts As Therapy?

I shared this video  to my Instagram community as a great example of potential alternatives to therapy for children. I wanted parents to know that although therapy with a mental health provider is sometimes the best option for particular presenting problems, it’s not the only way to work through or prevent challenges.

Hope you'll take a moment to watch the video so the rest of this blog post makes sense.

In theory, the boy in the video could be working on his anxiety, self-regulation, executive functioning (impulse control), self-advocacy, confidence, depression (exercise component), and social participation. Being part of the martial arts studio could provide the child a sense of meaning and belonging (antidote to depression), and get him unglued from the video games and interacting in the real world (social emotional wellness).

In theory, the martial arts class wouldn’t have a long waitlist like most child therapists and it would be a fraction of the cost of paying for psychotherapy out-of-pocket. The child who goes to martial arts may even meet a friend (social emotional wellness).


Co-regulating With Affect

The martial arts instructor models a calm affect and co-regulation. If you’re struggling to grasp what therapists mean by a regulated affect, the adult in the video provides a good example.

You’ll notice that although the he uses phrases therapists normally advice against like telling an individual to “relax,” when they're anxious, because his tone of voice is gentle, I don’t think it’s a problem at all.

The teacher uses various components of affect, combined with encouraging words and patience to keep the boy calm, present, and ready to learn. Co-regulation combined with a connected relationship, are important tools when parenting autistic and highly sensitive children. 

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Blog posts are for informational purposes and not mental health advice.

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