Types of Child Therapy

types of child therapy

Types of Child Therapy

Every parent wants their child to thrive, and it can be upsetting when you realize your son or daughter isn’t meeting milestones. If your little one needs a bit of extra help to speak, play, or meet classroom expectations, don’t be daunted. Read our guide to the main types of child therapy.

Speech and Language Therapy

By first grade, 5% of American children will be diagnosed with a speech disorder.1 Issues like stuttering and poor articulation are incredibly common, and their treatment requires the intervention of a trained speech and language pathologist (SLP). Speech and language therapy consists of in-the-moment vocal exercises that strengthen the mouth and your child’s skills with reading, expressive language, and more. At-home assignments will help you to reinforce what is learned in speech therapy.

Sample Exercises:

  • Encouraging children to practice articulation and expression through storytelling.
  • Blowing bubbles as an oral motor exercise for strength, lip pursing, and breath control.

Occupational Therapy (OT)

Believe it or not, children have many occupations—playing, learning, socializing, and relaxing are all crucial for their development. Difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, interacting with other kids, or self-regulating can inspire parents to contact an occupational therapist (OT). These professionals work one-on-one with children of all ages, helping them to boost their self-esteem through mastery of these activities. We have found occupational therapy works best when it is child-led, engaging, and fun!

Sample Exercises:

  • Handwriting practice doesn’t have to be dull. Kids love tracing letters in shaving cream, rice, or sand.
  • Playing with Play-Doh can boost fine motor skills and hand strength. Children are encouraged to roll the dough, create intricate shapes, and use safety scissors to cut it into slices.

Physical Therapy (PT)

Doctors often recommend physical therapy for children with developmental delays or a history of injury. Physical therapists (PTs) work with these populations and assist them with the development of crucial gross motor skills: the large-scale body movements required for balance, flexibility, and strength. Physical therapy builds muscles and coordination through a series of exciting, action-packed activities. This hands-on approach keeps kids’ attention while targeting issues with their mobility in regular child therapy sessions.

Sample Exercises:

  • Whether they’re bear walking, crab walking, or slithering like a snake, pretending to be an animal captures a child’s imagination while building strength in key areas.
  • Little ones love to dance! In the process, they’ll jump, skip, or run, knocking out many PT moves along the way.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA Therapy)

Many children—including those on the autism spectrum—can benefit from the techniques learned in applied behavior therapy. Board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) jump-start their clients’ social and emotional skills. Applied behavior therapy focuses on building the relationship between a child’s choice and the natural consequences that come with it. As a result, children are better prepared to communicate with their peers, regulate their emotions, enter new environments, and reduce negative behaviors.

Sample Exercises:

  • Using a visual timer to help your child prepare to transition between activities.
  • Practicing common communications, like greeting someone, saying goodbye, or asking for something they want.

Feeding Therapy

Eating problems have always been common among children, and many parents overlook the factors that may contribute to them. For example, one picky eater may avoid certain foods due to their textures, while another could struggle with the oral motor skills required to eat that meal. Occupational and speech therapists are equipped to help kids master complex tongue movements, swallowing, sensory issues, utensil use, and other behaviors related to feeding

Sample Exercises:

  • Letting the child assist in the preparation of various foods—even if they’re just bringing their plate to the table—increases willingness to try something new.
  • Introducing foods through play by smashing them or painting with them. This can make ingredients seem less intimidating and more appealing.

Music Therapy

Music is a powerful tool, especially for kids. It can be used to help children expand their vocabulary, memorize lyrics, take turns with instruments, pay attention, and make choices, among other skills. Music therapists work one-on-one or in groups, teaching their clients to communicate and self-regulate.

Sample Exercises:

  • Asking children to make up words to songs they already know can inspire them to recall words, make jokes, and practice rhyming, all while having fun.
  • Beating a drum or shaking a tambourine to the beat improves a child’s rhythm and understanding of cause and effect.

Schedule Your Child’s Psychoeducational Evaluation

If you’re concerned about your child, resources are available. Project Play Therapy offers psychoeducational evaluations that give parents the answers they need. Our accurate, low-stress assessments determine whether your child could benefit from the therapies outlined above. To learn more about the types of therapy offered at PPT, reach out to our team.


  1. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-voice-speech-language