What is Play Therapy?

Play is an important part of childhood, and is how children learn about the world and develop skills. While adults are able to use words to communicate, children usually express themselves by using toys and their imaginations. The problems they are experiencing naturally come out through their play.

Play therapy is held in a playroom filled with art supplies, dolls, dress-up items, and other carefully-selected toys. Most of the time, sessions are 50 minutes long and will take place weekly.

As your child plays, I will be paying very close attention to the child’s actions and feelings and will engage in the play if asked to by the child. Sometimes, I decide to use a specific type of game or activity to teach the child a new skill. Play therapists do not question or probe your child for information. The playroom is a free place where the child gets to choose what to play with and whether or not to talk. During this time, all feelings and behaviors are acceptable, expect for actions that may hurt the counselor, the child, or property. This freedom is necessary so the child will feel safe and trusting enough to reveal fears, worries, and problems.

How will play therapy help my child?

Play therapy creates a safe atmosphere where children can express themselves, learn more about how the world works, and work through their problems. When adults have a problem, we often think about it for awhile, look at it from different angles, and maybe talk about it with a trusted friend or go to a counselor. During play therapy, children do these same things using their imagination. They get to “try out” different solutions and learn how to cope with their feelings.

What can parents do to help?

Dress your child in old clothes, or ones you don’t mind getting a little messy – your child will have access to sand and washable paint in the playroom.

The session should be viewed as the child’s private time with the counselor, so parents are asked not to question their children about the session. I will keep you updated on a regular basis, and you’re always welcome to call me if you have any questions or concerns.

  • If your child talks about something from the session, it’s best to simply listen and accept their feelings
  • If your child brings art home from the session, it’s best to neither praise nor criticize the artwork. An appropriate response might be, “I can tell you worked really hard on that,” or “You used lots of colors in your picture.”

 

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