Children ages 4-17 have enjoyed and benefited from the use of play in their therapy sessions. Children are often referred to play therapists for help in resolving their problems when they have exhausted their own coping skills and cannot reduce their symptoms (misbehavior, depression, anxiety, etc). Counselors use play therapy because it is a developmentally appropriate way to assess and understand a child's needs. Children are typically unable to use words to explain their feelings about what they are experiencing. Play gives a child the words and allows the therapist insight into their world. Play therapy provides a safe environment for children to change the way they cope with difficult feelings and resolve problems.
Our playroom offers a nonjudgmental and accepting environment where children are able to work through treatment issues, explore parts of themselves, and find better ways of relating to their parents. Since parents are involved in every session, they are able to duplicate this environment at home, which ensures the ultimate level of healing. Parents are encouraged to be active in the counseling process because a parent's alliance with their child's therapist has been found to be significantly related to progress in therapy for the child. We invite families into our sessions for the "talk time" at the beginning of each session. This time allows the therapist to see the dynamics between family members, hear parent concerns, assist the child in developing an emotional language, openly discuss presenting problems, and facilitate positive communication.
Following our talk time, the child has their play therapy time. We use both directive and non-directive techniques during play therapy sessions. Non-directive play therapy allows the child to lead the session. This empowers them to help themselves and build confidence that they can manage feelings and difficulties as they arise. During directive sessions, the therapist chooses an activity that is related to processing, assessing, or solving a current problem and/or behavior.
Once a month, we hold separate parent sessions in order to gain further insight into the family and identify factors related to the presenting problem. During this time parents are also provided with feedback and recommendations for future treatment, to use both in the office and at home. Parents may request a separate session at any time to express concerns or share more information.
Play Therapy Helps Children:
- Become more responsible for behaviors
- Regulate emotions
- Reduce stress
- Build creative problem-solving skills
- Learn to express feelings
- Cultivate empathy for thoughts and feelings of others
- Improve communication skills
- Elevate spirit and self-esteem