What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a special process that focuses on children's need to express themselves through the use of play. Children are encouraged to play as they wish with a trained play therapist who provides a safe and understanding environment. In this process a diverse assortment of specially selected toys are made available to encourage the expression of emotional stress. Children are given the opportunity to express themselves through a variety of styles including art play, sand play, dramatic play, and fantasy play.
Why Play Therapy for children?
Play is a child's language. Children are unable to understand and talk about their feelings the way adults can. Children do not have the cognitive ability to talk through their issues. They can recreate, in play, the experiences that are part of their anger, fears, sadness or frustrations currently influencing their behavior. Play therapy always caters to the child’s developmental stage. The relationship with the therapist allows a sense of security when recreating emotionally stressful experiences.
What happens in Play Therapy?
Through the play therapy process children create play that resembles the emotional experiences they are struggling with internally. These experiences usually cannot be expressed verbally. Children will select special toys to include in their play and use those toys to recreate issues that represent emotional conflicts that are important to the child. Beginning with this expression, the child's play evolves until the child gains a sense of understanding and comfort over this situation.
How can Play Therapy help my child?
Children can change their personal view of events in the world and begin to better enjoy their interactions with others. When children recreate their frustrations or disappointments and then change the experience of that situation in their play, they begin to enjoy more of their play experiences and therefore, more of life’s interactions. This leads to higher self-esteem and more enjoyment of activities with family, friends, and peers. And parenting is more enjoyable!
How long will play therapy take?
Play therapy is a process that depends upon several factors in the child's past and present experiences. The two most important factors are the developmental stage of the child and the age of the child at the onset of the issue. Usually the more recent the event, the shorter the length of time in therapy. The further back in the child's development that the onset of the issue occurred, the longer that the play process will take.
Is play different in play therapy than when my child plays at home?
The basic function of play remains the same in both situations. Play to children, is a natural way to rehearse for life's interactions. Play is basically of three purposes. The first two are for cognitive and motor development. The third is for emotional resolutions. When facilitated by a trained play therapist, the play becomes focused on emotional purposes. This leads to understanding and reestablishment of balance in the child’s sense of well-being.
How will I be involved as a parent?
Parent involvement is important in the play therapy process. Parents will be asked to meet with the therapist on a regular basis. A parent may become involved in the play therapy by joining the play process, if recommended by the therapist. Parents also will be asked to contribute to their child's progress by following recommendations of the therapist which may include activities outside the play therapy room that support the therapy process.
Christa Frame Adams Counseling
I specialize in therapy with children and adults, ages 3-26. I have worked with younger children in both, Play Therapy and Family Therapy. I have been doing play therapy since 2005 working with children around various issues. Some of those topics have included domestic violence, divorce, school & social issues, stress, anxiety, depression, and traumatic experiences. I specialize in work with teens and young adults using talk and sandtray therapy to explore the clients needs and experiences.
My work with parents has been focused on education and improving communicating with their children. I am trained in filial family therapy which provides special training for parents to create a special time allowing them to connect with their children.
Family therapy is also an important piece in working with children and adolescents, as this is their primary support group and essential in working on the process of change.
In the last eight years in which I have been working with adolescents they have been some of my greatest teachers. A huge struggle for many adolescents is building their own self identity. This is primarily because they are in the developmental stage in which they find, create, and decide on who they want to be. This can be a huge and daunting task for any individual, not to mention one that might have outside stressors affecting them as well.
When we mix in divorce, school issues, or sibling conflict into the already stressed teen brain, we tend to get some kind of response. I have found that it can come out in behavioral issues, self harming behaviors, substance use, or unhealthy/destructive personal relationships. Giving teens a safe place to talk, with someone who will not judge them, tends to allow them a place where they open up freely. I consider myself a guide to support them along their own journey of who they want to become.My work with adolescents focuses on emotional issues such as school struggles, family issues, stress, depression, and anxiety. I received special training in the substance use field, and have done drug and alcohol counseling with teens since 2005.