Parents do everything in their power to protect their children from traumatic situations. Unfortunately, life sometimes has different plans for us—and those plans are often completely out of our control. Natural disasters, unexpected deaths, divorce or separation, abuse…children can be exposed to any number of events that may have an adverse effect on their behavior. And when children begin to act out, it may be recommended they go to play therapy.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about what exactly play therapy is, and what it can accomplish. First of all, let us say that play therapy is not just a therapeutic trend or catch phrase—it’s a highly effective therapeutic modality through which children can express emotions they don’t otherwise know how to verbalize, communicate or even tap into.
Play therapy enables children to:
• Communicate unspeakable feelings that a play therapist can then help them process and understand
Second of all, let’s say the ability for play therapy to have a positive impact on a child’s behavior and attitude is almost completely dependent on the caliber of his or her play therapist. To an outsider looking in, yes, a plan therapy session looks like, well, play. However, a highly experienced play therapist will know how to interpret a child’s mannerisms in a meaningful way. For more information about what to look for in a play therapist, check out our blog, How to Find a Therapist for Your Child.
Okay, let’s fast forward. You’ve selected the best play therapist possible… but you’re still nervous about how your child will respond.
Here are a few pieces of advice from other parents who have been exactly where you are right now:
1. Meet with the play therapist before your child’s first session-without your child present. This is encouraged so you can get acquainted, ask and answer questions freely, and feel comforted that you’ve chosen the right play therapist for your child.
2. Ask your child’s play therapist how often he or she plans on touching base about your child’s progress. This helps you to set realistic expectations about the communication you will have with the therapist. We appreciate the opportunity to check in with parents before or after each play therapy session.
3. Ask your child’s play therapist what, if any, therapeutic activities you could participate in at home in support of your child’s progress and growth.
4. Ask the play therapist how long they expect to work with your child, once enough play therapy sessions have taken place and the therapist has a good sense about your child’s struggles. Though every child is different, it’s comforting to hear about the processes of other children in similar situations.
5. While it’s tempting to ask your child what they did or talked about during their play therapy session, it’s important to respect your child’s process. These questions are better directed to the therapist, who can explain the process in context.
Play therapy is a proven therapeutic process than can help children process emotions in a productive way. It helps children grow to be happy and well-adjusted, even in the aftermath of intense trauma. While it can be easy to brush play therapy off or assume that it’s an ineffective form of therapy, we assure you…hundreds of children have benefitted immensely from play therapy, and that’s just in our counseling center. If your child is struggling, it is absolutely worth a try.
Contact Creative Counseling Center
Creative Counseling Center has earned its reputation of being one of Denver’s best play therapy centers. While we offer counseling to children and adults of all ages and in all situations, our play therapists are some of the best in the country. We welcome the opportunity to help your child learn and grow through play—take advantage of our offer for a free phone consultation and find out how we can help your child today.