“Our true nature is to play and explore, to live in the moment, to enjoy life. ” Don Miguel Ruiz
Why Play Therapy?
We know play is a universal language. You don’t need me to tell you this! You’ve seen children play; on playgrounds, in movies, at schools, and in their bedrooms. I’m sure, if you think hard enough, you can remember, maybe, even playing school, house or a board game growing up. Play is spoken by all regardless of race, socioeconomic status, culture or native language. This is an appropriate method of communication for even pre-verbal children age 12 months or younger.
Often times parents seek out therapy and therapists who use traditional approaches (talk therapy) encouraging children to “talk about their feelings”, control their behavior and understand themselves better. Unfortunately, and many times, parents become frustrated and begin to believe therapy doesn’t work. The child often begins to have a bad experience with therapy.
I want you to think for a moment about the last time you asked your child to tell you about their day. How much detail did you get? How many feeling words did they use? Think for a moment about a scary event or sad event in your life…now what is your willingness to talk about it?
Process of Play Therapy…
The process of Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) involves allowing children to do things for themselves in the play therapy room. The play therapist does not provide answers, teach or show children how to complete tasks; they are free to discover and explore themselves.
I use an integrated play therapy approach. What this means is that I use CCPT (Child-Centered Play Therapy) and other play therapy models such as experiential, Adlerian and cognitive behavioral. I use expressive arts and sand tray techniques to help children and teens to share their thoughts and feelings.
Play is symbolic and allows children to process feelings through sensory-motor activities-movement, touch, smell, taste-and allows children to organize their experiences. This technique allows children to feel secure, independent, and powerful and is especially important for those who have been exposed to trauma or chaos where they may have felt helpless.
Recent research shows that Play Therapy helps to regulate the fight/flight/freeze response system. Traditional talk therapy requires the rational brain (Frontal Cortex) which allows for verbalization, understanding, logic, and reasoning. Thus, Play Therapy helps children self-soothe and reorganize their central nervous system and rewire their brain.
Play Therapy has been shown to be effective in dealing with issues such as:
- foster care, adoption
- divorce, separation
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Behavior problems
- Anger Management
Below is a video that shares information about sand-tray and it’s importance. Sand-tray is effective with all ages and disorders and has been shown to be effective in dealing with issues such as the above.