Play Therapy

Children and adults are different. So shouldn't their therapy be?

Our children are precious to us which can lead to great pain and frustration when we feel disconnected with them. We try harder and harder to talk with them, get them to open up when we sense something is wrong, but the harder we try the more distant we seem to become. We ask questions, do our best to help them feel safe, but sometimes we need help. Could it be the two of you are speaking a different language? We are here to help translate.

Below you will get a chance to read about what Play Therapy is, how it works, and what you can expect.

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What is "Play Therapy" and how does it work?

In therapy, no matter the client's age, gender, or genetics, the therapist's goal is to develop rapport and trust, uncover what is troubling the client, and bring resolution. For adults, because they are fully developed and have an established vocabularly, this is typically done through "Talk Therapy." However, children are still developing and do not have an established vocabulary with which to communicate. Therefore, Play Therapy was developed as a means to communicate with children in their own language - play. 

Play Therapy is not playtime. Though it may appear to be, there is much more going on for a child than what meets the eye. Whereas adults may journal, children may draw. Whereas adults may vent over coffee, children may act out with dolls. Play Therapy is, simply put, therapy tailored to children. 

As parents, we cherish our children. We want them to feel loved, safe, and experience all the joys of being a "carefree child." But we have to recognize that as hard as we may try to make it, being a child is not always "carefree." Children experience all the same feelings as adults but without the words to communicate and process them with an adult. Or sometimes they don't feel they have a trusted adult to express it to. As adults, we often misinterpret children.

But to a trained therapist, toys become symbols and take on much greater meaning. Why a child picks a specific toy and how the child treats that toy gives the therapist insight to that child's world and what they are experiencing. Therapist are trained to recognize when a child is using "play" to act out their fears and anxieties, or as a soothing mechanism, or perhaps trying to heal and problem solve. Upon recognizing these things, the therapist can support them in this process and explore new ways to communicate and bring resolution.

Scroll to the bottom of this page to learn how Play Therapy will be like for you, your child, and your family.

Change is possible. Our team is invested in the continual and lasting growth of our clients, providing meaningful support that empowers you to write your own story.

Call 253-289-6099 or Contact Us Online

What will this therapy look like for my child and me?

The first step, as with any therapy, is to obtain some background information through conversation with those involved with the child's developement as appropriate. Perhaps this is with parents, maybe grandparents, perhaps siblings and maybe even teachers should that be neccessary. This will allow the therapist to understand the problems and concerns as seen from the caretakers. 

The next step would initiate in a period of observation for the therapist during which they may want to observe the child play on their own or with family members. This period is meant to establish certain baselines for the child such as level of attachment to parents, indepenence while at play, and any indications of possible mental health concerns. This may take time since what may be first perceived as OCD tendancies by organizing toys rather than playing with them, might actually be a sign of nervousness that will fade with time. 

During these initial sessions, it will also be imperitive that the therapist develops a trusting and supportive relationship with the child. Once the child knows the play hour is a safe place, the work begins as they feel freedom to to learn, fail, struggle, and process. This freedom is encouraged by the level of control given to the child by the therapist to essentially choose their own adventure as they explore themselves with less limitations than might be afforded to them elsewhere.

Though Play Therapy will look different for every child, the therapist will be communicating observations and plans for treatment all along the way. We value the trust placed in us in treating your children. 

Play Therapy for Adults?

Though Play Therapy is typically used for children ages 3 to 12, it can be used for teens and adults as well. Afterall, simply because we are adults doesn't mean we don't struggle with verbal communication. 

Many adults struggle to find the "right words," while others think much faster than they can speak. Bottom line, where talk fails, play can help. 

Other addults who may benefit from Play Therapy include those affected by:

  • Intellectual Difficulties
  • Dimentia 
  • Chronic Illness
  • Substance Abuse
  • Trauma and Physical Abuse
  • Anger Management Issues
  • PTSD
  • Unresolved Childhood Issues


Our therapists can help determine if Play Therapy is right for you!

Change is possible. Our team is invested in our clients' continual and lasting growth, providing meaningful support that empowers you to write your own story.

Call 253-289-6099 or Contact Us Online

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