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Child Play Therapy

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~Plato

Play therapy has become one of the most successful and developmentally appropriate interventions for working with children who are experiencing emotional, social, or behavioral challenges (Bratton & Ray, 2000; Hall, Kaduson, & Schaefer, 2002).  

Play Therapy helps children express their emotions through their natural mean of expression: Play.  As Hall, Kaduson, and Schaefer (2002) explained it “for children, toys are their words and play is their conversation”.  

Through using play therapy strategies, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Rather than having children explain what is troubling them, children use play to communicate at their own level and pace without feeling pressured or interrogated .

 

How does Play Therapy work?

First, Wellbeing Center's counselor, who is trained in child development and in using play therapy techniques will begin by meeting with the parents and carefully listening to their concerns about their child. The counselor may ask several questions  about the child's life and family, and she may seek information from the school and/or other significant adults in the child's life in order to better support the child. Information that parents share about their child and family will be kept confidential. With the parents' permission, information might be shared with other professionals in the Center for the benefit of the child.

During the session, the counselor will have a selection of play materials from which the child may choose. These include art materials, sand, small figures and animals, play dough,  puppets, books, etc. By utilizing different Play Therapy techniques, the counselor will help the child to use these resources to express his or herself . Also, the positive relationship that develops between the counselor and the child is very important. The child must feel comfortable and understood during the sessions in order to be able to express his feelings and emotions safely.

How long does Play Therapy take?

Counseling sessions are usually once a week and the session lasts for 50 minutes.

Some children will respond to a short-term intervention ( 10-12 sessions). However, every child is different and the number of sessions needed might vary depending on the child.  Also, when problems have persisted for a long time or are complicated more sessions may be needed.

 

How can parents support their child throughout the process?

Parents' support is very important to their child,  and the collaboration between the counselor and the parents is very crucial. That's why the counselor will meet with the parents every now and then to discuss any updates or changes and to share with them any tips when needed.

Who can benefit from Play Therapy?

Play therapy is a safe expressive tool for all children, and it is especially appropriate for children ages 3 through 12 years old (Carmichael, 2006; Gil, 1991; Landreth, 2002; Schaefer, 1993). Play Therapy can help children who are experiencing a variety of social, emotional, and behavioral challenges such as: Anger management, self-esteem issues, anxiety, grief and loss, divorce, shyness, poor social skills.