Kids Can’t Always Say What They Feel.
While they may have ways to express themselves, there are times in a child’s life where their feelings are mixed up, and they tend to shut down. They may have angry outbursts all of the sudden. They may become quiet and reclusive when just a few months earlier they bounced around the house. And parents just don’t know how to help their children get out whatever seems stuck inside them. Whatever the situation, if your child seems stuck inside themselves, play therapy can give them the space and tools needed. Sometimes kids can express themselves while playing better than they can through words alone.
What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is an approach to counseling where children find ways to freely express themselves and navigate challenges in their relationships, trauma recovery, and find ways to solve problems and communicate better. The space is safe and comfortable with a lot of toys and games. While it may appear as a messy playroom, play therapy is designed intentionally from the size of the room to the toys used. The therapist doesn’t put a lot of restrictions on the time or way the child plays. This gives space for free expression of the child, so your child’s therapist can observe their play style, choices, and decision making process. The goal is for your child to learn ways of expressing themselves in a healthier way, learn how to navigate problems, and work through any challenges where they need support.
When is Play Therapy Appropriate?
While play therapy can benefit any child in need of counseling services, there are certain situations and events where play therapy can make all the difference. Here are some issues where play therapy is used:
- Serious illnesses or hospitalization
- Domestic violence or abuse (witnessed or experienced)
- Traumatic events (death of a family member or friend)
- A family crisis, or an upsetting change in their environment
- Learning Social Skills
- Behavioral and/or Mood Disorders
- ADD or ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder
What to Expect
Play therapy is an opportunity to understand how your child expresses themselves without pressure or anxiety. To them, they’re simply playing with blocks or finger painting with a new friend. During play therapy, your child is encouraged to play with very specific types of toys that help your child open up, and express their thoughts and feelings in a safe way. There may be one on one playing with toys and dolls and action figures. There may be painting and drawing, dancing or playing music. It’s a space for free expression without a lot of restriction. Each session runs for 30-45 minutes and sessions may be scheduled on a weekly basis. Your child’s therapist can give you an overview of what play therapy can look like specifically for your child.