What is Play Therapy?
Children are not able to express themselves verbally the way adults can. It can feel uncomfortable and intrusive for them when they are asked to describe complex thoughts and feelings in words. It feels far more natural for them to communicate through play.
Just as adults ‘talk out’ their difficulties in therapy, children in play therapy ‘play out’ their difficulties. In the therapeutic relationship with a caring play therapist, the child can experience enjoyment, stress relief, competence and acceptance.
Play therapy offers a safe and confidential space for children to express their feelings, to make sense of their world and to explore different ways of relating to others. This can help them to develop confidence and learn new ways to cope with difficult situations. And this is all done in the child’s most natural and fluent language: play.
The child visits the playroom once a week, for an agreed initial number of sessions. Regular meetings are also held with the parent, where the parent has the opportunity to discuss their concerns and get support and guidance from the play therapist. the number of play therapy sessions depends on the needs of the child, and during meetings between the therapist and the parent the decision as to whether to book more sessions, or to work towards an ending can be discussed.
The play therapist provides a room full of toys, games, arts and craft materials, sand, clay and role play props. The child can choose what to play with, and by joining the child in their play, the play therapist can gain an insight into the child’s world. The therapist can witness the child’s worries, preoccupations and ways of relating in the world. And through her attuned play, the therapist can convey the following messages: “I’m here, I hear you, I understand, I care.”
Over time the child in play therapy can develop new coping mechanisms and resilience. Many parents who bring their child to play therapy report that their child becomes happier, less impulsive and more able to talk about their feelings.
Play therapy can be an effective intervention
for many childhood difficulties including:
- Behaviour problems
- Parental separation
- Soiling or wetting
- Separation anxiety
- Difficult life transitions
- Parental depression
- Illness/hospitalisation of child or loved one
- Learning disabilities
- Attachment issues
Expressive and creative activities with a sensitively attuned therapist are also very effective with adolescents who feel uncomfortable when asked to talk.
If your child is experiencing difficulties and you are not sure whether play therapy is the best option or not, you can arrange an appointment, where I will listen to your concerns, discuss your options, and help you decide if play therapy would be a good fit for your child, or if not, recommend referral onto other professionals. This meeting will take an hour, and needs to be without the child so that we can talk in depth. To make an appointment click on the contact page.
I look forward to working with you and your child soon.