About Play Therapy
What is "Play Therapy?"
Play therapy has been clinically proven to address emotional and behavioral issues of children. It provides a way for trained clinicians to communicate with children. This type of therapy is natural and less threatening for children, since play is a natural form of expression for them.
"Play therapy is to children what talk therapy is to adults. Play is the child's way of communicating just as talking is the adult's natural way of communicating. In the playroom, toys are used like words and play is the child's language. Children are provided special toys in play therapy to enable them to say with the toys what they have difficulty saying with words...They can use the dolls, puppets, paints, or other toys to say what they think or how they feel."
Quoted from Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship by Dr. Garry Landreth
Who can provide play therapy for my child?
Play therapy is very different than just playing with a child, and therefore only a therapist with specialized training should provide this service for you and your child. Linda is trained in this type of therapy.
What should I tell my child about play therapy?
It is important to tell the child it is okay to tell Linda anything at all and to tell your child that there will be no negative consequences for what the child says to Linda. In bringing the child for the first session, the child can be told that s/he will be coming each week to play with Linda. If the child asks further questions, just state that it seems to help children to have someone to whom they can talk and play with.
What should I tell the therapist?
You, the parent, are the expert when it comes to your child. Linda is a partner to assist you with your child's emotional health. For this reason, it is vital for Linda to know recent events in your child's life, especially those to which your child has reacted strongly. Please do not give the child the responsibility of reporting events to the therapist. Telling the child to "be sure to tell Ms. Linda..." puts pressure on the child and may seem like punishment. The best way to get this information to Linda is to call before your child's next session and tell Linda what you think she should know. And, it is very important to have sessions with Linda about your child (on occasion without your child present) so that Linda can have your input about your child.
How will I know what my child does in therapy?
This question is complicated because you have a right as a parent to know information about your child's therapy; however, therapy is successful mainly because the child is able to say through play some things they may not yet be able to use words to tell their parents. For this reason, parents are asked to allow Linda to assure their child that what they play or say in therapy will not be repeated to parents until the child is ready for their parents to know. However, if anything vital to the child's safety or something essential for the parents to know comes up, this therapist will make sure the parent knows. Also, you and Linda will discuss general information about how your child is progressing without disclosing specifics of what the child has said or played. This limited confidentiality will allow the child the freedom of self-expression that is essential for play therapy to be effective.
How do I talk to my child about therapy after a session?
Even though the play therapy session is held with therapeutic "toys," your child can be expected to "work" very hard in therapy. In order to ensure your child's privacy, it is important that the child not feel any necessity to give an account of the events that occur in the playroom. This should be viewed as the child's own private time with the therapist. For this reason, you are asked to refrain from questioning your child about session activities. It is fine if your child volunteers to discuss what she or he has experienced in the session.
How often and for how long will my child need therapy?
Working through painful issues or fixing problems takes time. Typically, your child or adolescent will be seen for 45-50 minutes once a week. In a crisis, when a great deal of support is needed, Linda may meet with your child or adolescent more frequently than once a week. Therapy often takes longer with children because it is best to allow the child to proceed at the child's own pace. This approach is necessary in order to not harm the trust and relationship the child and Linda have developed. The length of the treatment depends on the nature of the difficulty. Sometimes six to ten sessions is all that is needed; some issues take longer. The child, his/her parents, and Linda are all partners in the therapy process. It is important to ask Linda when you have concerns about timing or anything else. Team work is the most effective and time-efficient method for success.