Play Therapy

Individual Play Therapy for Children

What is Play Therapy?  Play Therapy applies to many therapeutic treatment methods that benefit children.

Play Therapy

Play Therapy is different from regular play in that the therapist works with children to resolve their presenting problems.  Play Therapy allows children to build on their natural abilities and establish relationships with the world around them.  Through Play Therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behaviors, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others.  Play Therapy provides children with a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.  Therapists are able to utilize Play Therapy methods to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the ability to verbalize their needs, feelings and emotions.

How Does Play Therapy Work?

Children are referred for Play Therapy to resolve their problems.   Often, up until this point, children have used their own problem solving tools and they misbehave, may act out at home, school or with friends, suffer from anxiety, depression or other behavior related issues.   Play Therapy allows the therapist to assess and understand children’s play.  In Play Therapy, toys serve as the child’s words and play as the child’s language.  It is through play that the therapist is able to help the child learn healthy and more appropriate and adaptive behaviors.  Play Therapy helps children cope with difficult and complicated feelings by finding solutions to these problems in the clinical setting.   Play Therapy allows children to change the way they think, feel and resolve their concerns.   The positive relationship that develops between the therapist and child during Play Therapy sessions provides a corrective emotional experience necessary for healing.

Does the Family Get Involved in Sessions Too?  The interaction and relationship between children and their caretakers is essential.  Families, therefore, play an important role in the therapeutic Play Therapy process.  Children’s problems can be disruptive to the entire family, causing the whole family to become distressed.  Sometimes the child develops problems as a signal that there is something wrong in the family.   It is the role of the play therapist to decide how and when to involve some or all of the family members into Play Therapy.  At a minimum, the therapist will communicate with the child’s caretakers regularly to develop a plan for resolving problems as they are identified.

Who Benefits from Play Therapy?  Play Therapy is beneficial for everyone; however it is especially appropriate for children ages 3 to 12 years old.

How long is Play Therapy Treatment?  Session lengths vary, however individual sessions are typically 45 to 60 minutes.  Sessions are held weekly.  Research suggests that weekly visits help to promote reinforcement of positive behaviors.  Research also suggests that it takes an average of 20 Play Therapy sessions to resolve the problems of the typical child referred for treatment.

Group Therapy for Children

What You Need To Know About Groups

  • Groups are offered on an as-needed basis.
  • Placement in groups is determined on age, maturity, mental health need, appropriateness for group and ability to commit to group.
  • All group members and guardians are required to sign confidentiality forms.
  • For groups that are closed (set number of weeks and schedule) A commitment to the group is needed.
  • For groups that are open (individual goal is discussed with parent and client).

Play Therapy Group – Boys and Girls – 3-6

This Play Therapy group is designed for children, both boys and girls.  Children referred for this group present with issues of; defiance, opposition, low frustration, argumentative, poor social skills, need for constant redirection, trouble at home and school, frequent tantrums, inability to self-regulate emotions, fears and high sensitivities.  Group based Play Therapy allows children to work on issues related to interpersonal struggles in a natural social environment.  It reduces the sense of isolation that many children feel who suffer from difficulties, as well as allowing children permission to help one another.

The goal of the pre-school age Play Therapy group for the individual child participant is to:  increase the ability to comply with directions, follow through with tasks with minimal arguments, have a decrease in the frequency and intensity of tantrums, increase in the ability to verbalize needs, feelings and emotions, display ability to share and interact with peers and display confidence.  The group runs weekly for 60 minutes (45mins with the children and 15mins with parents for feedback).

Play Therapy Group – Boys and Girls – 7-11

This Play Therapy group is designed for boys and girls, ages 7 to 11.  Children referred to this group present with issues of:  anxiety, social anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, difficulty with peers, difficulties at school, poor social skills, inability to self-regulate emotions, fears, high sensitivities, low frustration tolerance, etc.  Group based Play Therapy for elementary school children is effective in allowing independence, making friends, becoming assertive, learning and developing coping skills.  The goal of the group is to decrease negative symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, increase positive interactions with peers/others, and increase compliance and/or frustration tolerance.  This group meets weekly and runs for 60 minutes.  (45 minutes with the children and 15 minutes with parents for feedback).