Last time, we started to lay the foundation to help you determine if play therapy is right for your family and we will continue with this latest blog on the “how” and the “who does it benefit?”
How Does It Work?
Children are referred for play therapy to resolve their problems. Often, children have used up their own problem solving tools, and they misbehave, may act out at home, with friends, and at school. Play therapy allows trained mental health practitioners who specialize in play therapy, to assess and understand children’s play. Further, play therapy is utilized to help children cope with difficult emotions and find solutions to problems. By confronting problems in the clinical Play Therapy setting, children find healthier solutions. Play therapy allows children to change the way they think about, feel toward, and resolve their concerns. Even the most troubling problems can be confronted in play therapy and lasting resolutions can be discovered, rehearsed, mastered and adapted into lifelong strategies.
Play Therapy is most appropriate for children ages 3 – 12 years old. The children who typically come to therapy have a variety of diagnoses: autism, ADHD, oppositional defiant and conduct disorders, anger management, crisis or trauma, grief and loss, divorce, and learning/social disabilities. Play therapy helps children:
- Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
- Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
- Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
- Learn to experience and express emotion.
- Cultivate empathy and respect for the thoughts and feelings of others.
- Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
- Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.
Are Parents Involved?
Families play an important role in children’s healing processes. The interaction between children’s problems and their families is always complex. Sometimes children develop problems as a way of signaling that there is something wrong in the family. Other times the entire family becomes distressed because the child’s problems are so disruptive. In all cases, children and families heal faster when they work together.
The play therapist will make some decisions about how and when to involve some or all members of the family in the play therapy. At a minimum, the therapist will want to communicate regularly with the child’s caretakers to develop a plan for resolving problems as they are identified and to monitor the progress of the treatment. Other options might include involving a) the parents or caretakers directly in the treatment by modifying how they interact with the child at home and b) the whole family in family play therapy. Whatever the level of involvement of the family members, they typically play an important role in the child’s healing.
Ready to learn more? Contact us today at (347) 457-5900.