Are there any issues that you do not treat?
Yes, there are issues that we do not have specialized training in. We do not treat eating disorders, substance abuse issues, or high psychiatric needs such as schizophrenia. However, we have a lot of resources in the community and would be happy to offer you numbers to other therapists. If you are experiencing any of these concerns, give us a call and we will gladly point you in the right direction.
Questions about Play Therapy:
Why choose Play therapy?
Any child that has any sort of problem they need to discuss or be able to process would make a good candidate for play therapy.
A young child who is under 12 years old can’t express what they’re feeling or really even be able to ask questions about what they’re feeling. They just know something is different and upsetting. Play therapy might be a way for them to express what they find troubling without using any verbal language. You can’t stick the child on a couch and ask them to start telling you what’s on their mind. Instead play therapy builds upon their normal communication level using play.
Children don’t have the same cognitive ability as an adult to say what’s bothering them. The problem could be a behavioral issue, psychological issue, or maybe even medical. No matter what the problem is, they need a way to discuss it. The uses of play are very important. Children can work on issues that are distressing to them, can play out issues of what the future will be, and can talk about trauma. If it’s too hard to put into words, they can work on it with play. It’s young children who will benefit most from play therapy, as they are the ones who don’t have well-developed abstract thinking skills to process issues or the verbalization skills to discuss them.
How can Play Therapy help my child?
Play is vital to every child’s social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and language development. It helps make learning concrete for all children and young people including those for whom verbal communication may be difficult.
Play therapy helps children in a variety of ways. Children receive emotional support and can learn to understand more about their own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes they may re-enact or play out traumatic or difficult life experiences in order to make sense of their past and cope better with their future. Children may also learn to manage relationships and conflicts in more appropriate ways. While adults find relief in talking over their difficulties with a therapist, children are often unable to express their thoughts and feelings in words. As the child plays, the therapist begins to recognize themes and patterns or ways of using the materials that are important to the child. Over time, the therapist may help the child begin to make meaning out of the play. This is important because the play reflects issues which are important to the child and typically relevant to their difficulties.
The outcomes of Play therapy may be a general reduction in anxiety and raised self-esteem, or more specific such as a change in behavior and improved relations with family and friends.
What will happen in my child’s Play Therapy sessions?
Your child’s Play therapist will have a large selection of play materials from which your child may choose to help with their expression. These include art and craft materials, dressing up props, sand and water, play dough, small figures and animals, musical instruments, puppets, doll house, play kitchen, and aggression toys.
Each session lasts 50 minutes and usually is recommended once a week. It is preferable that the sessions are consistent and are scheduled for the same day and time each week to aid in the child’s feelings of security and safety. The Play therapist will create a relationship with your child in order to enhance your child's ability to express him or herself without having to provide verbal explanations.
How long does Play Therapy take?
Some children will respond to a short term intervention (12-16 sessions). Research shows that 20 sessions is an optimal amount to achieve desired results due to emotional stress in a child’s life. However, when problems have persisted for a long time or are complicated a longer-term intervention may be required. In these circumstances some Play therapists have worked with children for two years or more. Sessions are usually once a week and consistency on a regular day and at the same time and place is very important for developing a trusting relationship. Unplanned missed sessions may disrupt the progress.
Why is the therapeutic relationship so important?
The therapeutic relationship that develops between your child and their Play therapist is very important. Your child must feel comfortable, safe and understood. This type of trusting environment makes it easier for the child to express his/her thoughts and feelings and to use the therapy in a useful way. This is why we meet with parents without the child initially and at intervals throughout the therapeutic process, so the child doesn’t overhear the list of negative symptoms that have brought him or her to therapy.
Will it be confidential?
Information that you share about your child and family will usually be kept confidential. A Play therapist may share information with other colleagues and professionals for the benefit of your child with your permission. A Play therapist must share information with other professionals if they are concerned that a child is being harmed, hurting others or themselves. They will usually talk to you about this first.
Your child’s Play Therapist will meet with you at regular intervals to discuss progress in therapy sessions and any changes and developments you have witnessed or experienced at home. However the Play Therapist will not disclose specific details of what your child has played. This is important in order to maintain your child’s trust and feelings of safety with the therapist. Typically a parent session will occur every 3-4 weeks to discuss progress and happenings outside of therapy.
What can I do to support my child in play therapy?
You are very important in supporting your child through the process. Here are some tips we recommend in order to make play therapy a safe and welcoming therapeutic process for your child:
1. Be consistent and try to schedule regular sessions at same time and day each week.
2. Before the first session, prepare your child by saying “You are going to see Ms. Julia every week, where there are lots of toys to play with”. If she asks why she is going, you can tell her “Things don’t seem to be going so well for you at home right now (or other general statement about problem), and sometimes it helps to have a special time just for you to share with a special person”.
3. At the first session, if your child is reluctant to enter the playroom, do not encourage him or try to bargain with him to go with me. I will be patient with the reluctance and reflect his feelings. He may need a minute or two to decide, and I hope you will sit quietly and allow me to do the work. This is not unusual for kids to be reluctant, and therapy starts as soon as you enter our office. Every interaction is crucial to developing trust with your child.
4. Please don’t ask your child to “be good” or “be nice” or “listen to Ms. Julia”. Therapy is not about being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and your child must feel free to express ‘bad’ feelings in an uncensored way. Children should not feel like they have to give a report to anyone in this process.
5. Also, don’t say “Bye” to your child at the separation. This may leave the child feeling confused. Simply state “I’ll be here when you are finished”.
6. Understand confidentiality. I will respect your child as much as I respect you. I will share my impressions and suggestions, but I am not free to discuss in detail about the specifics of what your child says or does in the playroom.
7. Understand if your child gets messy with paint, that it is okay. Please don’t dress them in anything that cannot get ruined
8. After the session, resist the urge to ask your child what they did, as this will put pressure on them to comment on something they may have difficulty understanding themselves. Don’t say “How did it go?” or “Did you have fun?” You can simply say, “Hello there, time to go home now.”
9. If your child takes a drawing home with her, please don’t praise it. It would be best to comment on descriptors, such as “You used a lot of colors, blue, green, and yellow”. If you praise the painting, she may feel she should make more for you in next sessions.
10. Don’t reprimand your child if she gets paint on her during the session. Most children will get paint on them during session, but it is washable. Some children really enjoy the freedom to be messy with paints, and that can be part of the therapeutic process.
11. Remember that during any therapeutic intervention behavior may appear to get worse before it gets better – please tell your child’s Play Therapist if you have any concerns. Please also feel free to ask your child’s Play therapist any questions throughout the process. Usually every 3-4 sessions a parent check in is scheduled without the child; however, if you need to check in prior to the scheduled time, let us know and we will make it happen!
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to therapy. Some may be going through a major life transition, or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking therapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes for their family.