Child Therapy - Play TherapyPrepare your child for the path. Do not prepare the path for your child - Ghandi
What is play therapy?
Play therapy is a therapy model for children under the age of 12 with emotional or behavioural difficulties. Because children do not have the cognitive ability that adults have, I use play to help children explore what is troubling them when they do not have words to express their thoughts and feelings. It is important that your child is able to use play to communicate at his/her own level and pace without feeling interrogated or threatened. Play Therapy will help your child understand confusing feelings and upsetting events that s/he hasn’t had the chance to sort out properly. As a Child Psychologist, I use my knowledge of child development and attachment (the bonding process) as well as the use of therapeutic play, to understand and communicate with your child about his/her feelings, thoughts and behaviour. Play therapy will help your child prevent or resolve emotional and social difficulties and will encourage his/her optimal growth and development.
How does play therapy work?
The first appointment is with parents only and this is when I gather information about your family and your child. We then arrange a Play Therapy session with your child. A play therapy session is 45 minutes. Ideally, these sessions are weekly and at the same time and place. This consistency is important for me to develop a trusting relationship with your child. Some children may need short-term treatment while more serious or ongoing problems may take longer to resolve. I meet with parents regularly to discuss progress in play therapy sessions and also to check if there are any changes and developments you may have witnessed or experienced at home. Parents do not attend play therapy sessions (with the exception of filial therapy). I 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 me.
During treatment, I create a comfortable, safe environment in which your child is allowed to play with as few limits as possible. I call this child counselling space the play therapy room. The play therapy room comes equipped with a selection of specifically chosen toys that are meant to encourage your child to express his or her thoughts and feelings. Your child’s interactions with these toys and his/her relationship with me serve as clues to your child’s inner world. This helps me to learn about specific thoughts and feelings that your child may find difficult or impossible to express in words. Play can range from very non-directive, child-centred play (where your child leads the play) to a mixed approach and sometimes, a more focussed approach where I might read your child a story or ask him/her to do some drawings that I think will help to resolve a problem your child is having.
It has been my experience, as a child therapist, that children and families heal faster when they work together. Research has shown that positive treatment effects were greatest when there was a parent actively involved in their child’s treatment.
For this reason, I may recommend therapy for key people involved in your child’s life, may involve some or all members of the family in play therapy, may recommend some changes in how you interact with your child at home or suggest that the whole family attend some family play therapy sessions. If I need to share information with other colleagues and professionals for the benefit of your child, I will request your permission first. Information may need to be disclosed without consent should the child or someone else be in danger.
How do I know my child needs Play Therapy?
The following include some of the signs that your child may benefit from Play Therapy:
- Problems in transitions (following separation, divorce, or relocation)
- Difficulties with peer relationships/social difficulties
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Bullying (being bullied or bullying others)
- Overly aggressive behaviour
- Persistent worry, anxiety, or fearfulness
- Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Constant anger and a tendency to overreact to situations
- Frequent, unexplainable temper tantrums
- Mood swings
- Changes in patterns of sleeping or eating
- Persistent nightmares
- Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or other traumatic event
- Bereavement issues
- Regularly refusing to go to school
- A significant drop in grades
- Learning or attention problems (such as ADHD)
- Opposition to authority figures, and little or no remorse for breaking rules or norms
- A pattern of deliberate disobedience or aggression
- Difficulty taking part in activities that are normal for the child’s age
- Developmental delay in speech, language, or toilet training
- An increase in physical complaints (headache, stomachache, or not feeling well) with no physical diagnosis
- Serious, acute, or chronic illness