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Play therapy is ideal for children 3-12 years old, though it can certainly be used help some children who are both younger and older. Play Therapy is one of the most appropriate methods of treatment for children who are having difficulties coping with life situations. It is effective for addressing many different kinds of issues. Through play therapy, children gain developmentally appropriate insight and self awareness, encouragement, an increase in self-expression, an improved ability to problem solve that comes from increased self confidence, and an improved ability to self-regulate.
There is a wonderful Youtube video designed to introduce parents to play therapy.
How is Play Therapy Different from “Just Playing?”
The play therapy relationship is a unique one. Just as seeking out a friend or loved one to “just talk” about your problems is not the same thing as seeing a counselor, “just playing” with a child does not have the same effect as Play Therapy. Our play therapists are specifically trained in Child-Centered play therapy and provide an environment of acceptance, empathy and understanding in the play therapy room. They are trained to play in a unique way. Instead of “just playing,” play therapy uses the child’s natural tendency to “play out” their reactions to life situations to help the child feel accepted and understood and gain a sense of control or understanding of difficult situations.
What is in the Play Room?
Children’s natural language is play and toys are their words. Therefore, children benefit from having toys that are specifically chosen to promote and facilitate a variety of expression. As a result, play rooms are equipped with categories of toys that are carefully selected.
1Real-Life Toys: This category consists of toys that are directly representative of real-world items such as doll families and doll house, puppets, cars, cash register, and play money among other things.
2Aggressive-Release Toys: This toy group allows for the release of emotions that are typically not permitted to be expressed in other settings and includes a BoBo (aka the bop bag), toy soldiers, handcuffs, rubber knives, and toy guns (these purposefully do not look realistic).
3Creative Expression Toys: This category contains toys that allow for creativity. Includes paints, paper and easel, crayons, sand, water, and musical instruments. Some caregivers express concern about their children playing with certain toys, usually in the Aggressive-Release category.
These are very valid concerns. Please know that the playroom and the therapeutic relationship is a very different experience for children–in the playroom, they will learn that there are very specific limits set in order to protect their safety; to ground them safely in reality, and to express expectations for their behavior. If you have concerns regarding specific toys, feel free to discuss them with your play therapist to better understand the rational of each carefully selected and provided toy.
What Should I Tell My Child About Play Therapy?
We suggest something similar to:
(Child’s name), I just wanted to let you know that on (day of the week), you and I are going to meet (play therapist’s name). He/She has a special playroom with a lot of different toys in it. His/her job is to play with kids. You are going to spend time playing with him/her, and you are in charge of this special play time.
In addition, caregivers may find it helpful to watch this Youtube video with their children to introduce their child to the play therapy process.
Highly Trained, Compassionate Staff:
Stone Creek Center is proud to have one of the best equipped and most highly trained behavioral science teams in the country. Our multi-disciplinary team of clinicians are passionate about their work and approach each case with a deep commitment to personal ethics.
Cutting Edge Services:
We provide a vast array of assessments and therapies to help our clients understand and overcome issues such as anger and behavior problems, peer struggles, anxiety and depression, substance abuse issues and many more.