#302 - Therapy Regression: What is it and Why Does it Happen?

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC April 02, 2024

#302 - Therapy Regression: What is it and Why Does it Happen?

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Therapy Regression: What is it and Why Does it Happen?

What is regression?

Why do some children go through a regression during therapy?

Why do some children go through a regression during primitive reflex integration?

We answer these questions as well as provide some suggestions for parents and therapists, including focusing on connection, using sensory strategies, and trying new approaches.

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Therapy Regression: What Is It And Why Does It Happen?

Therapy regression refers to a phenomenon where a person experiences a decline in their mental health after making progress during therapy sessions. It is a common occurrence and can happen for various reasons.

Causes Of Regression

Several factors can lead to regression in occupational therapy. The most prevalent causes are:

  • Overwhelmed by intense emotions and struggle to cope.
  • Discontinuation of therapy.
  • Unexpected life events such as trauma, loss, or illness.
  • Negative thought patterns and self-doubt.
  • Difficulty in implementing learned skills outside of therapy sessions.

Indicators Of Regression

Regression can differ, but typically, you might observe:

  • Rise in emotional outbursts
  • Difficulty with sleeping or eating
  • Reverting to more immature ways of talking or playing
  • Loss of recently acquired skills such as toileting or self-care tasks 
  • Challenges with focusing or following instructions

Navigating Through Regression

The goal is to tackle challenging tasks and make progress wherever possible. Here are strategies to effectively support and guide your child:

  • Should new activities interfere with your daily schedule and family dynamics, it is wise to pause them temporarily.
  • Enhance your relationship with your child by dedicating 10-20 minutes to engaging in activities they love, letting them guide the experience.
  • Implement a daily sensory diet schedule tailored to specific times during the day to address your child's sensory needs.
  • Incorporate trauma-informed approaches, focusing on your child's emotional well-being and helping them cope with stressful situations.

Final Thoughts

Regression isn't something to be fearful of; instead, it allows children to consolidate skills and build upon them appropriately. While regression can be frustrating, understanding its significance can help parents and therapists effectively support their child's development. 

By acknowledging and allowing for regression periods, we can provide the necessary support and guidance to help children progress toward their developmental goals. Regression is a temporary step back that paves the way for more significant progress in the long run.

 

 

 

BORING, BUT NECESSARY LEGAL DISCLAIMERS

While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.


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