What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach used to help children up to the age of 12 explore their lives and freely express repressed thoughts and emotions through play. Therapeutic play normally takes place in a safe, comfortable playroom, encouraging free expression and allowing the therapist to observe the child’s choices, decisions, and play style. Games, toys and mediums such as clay, drawings and paint are used to enable such expression.
The goal is to help children learn to express themselves in healthier ways and discover new and more positive methods to solve problems. Children use non-verbal communication to express themselves. For this reason, it is important that when dealing with children we enter their world at their level of communication. This is why the medium of play is utilized.
Rather than having to explain what is troubling them, as adult therapy usually expects, children use play to communicate at their own level and at their own pace, without feeling interrogated or threatened.
Does My Child Need Therapy?
As children are non-verbal it is not always easy to tell if they are in need of psychological help. If you ask them how they are, they will generally respond with short, uninformed answers. This is because they do not know how they are doing.
For this reason we look at behavior in order to assess if a child is struggling.
Possible signs of psychological distress or dysregulation:
1. Regular complaints of physical aches, pains or illness - especially stomach related
2. Trouble sleeping/ having nightmares/ trouble with bedwetting
3. Loss or increase in appetite
4. Problems at school with the teachers or children
5. Intense anxiety when separated from caregivers
6. Spending more time alone than usual
7. Loss of interest in things previously enjoyed
9. Expresses feeling sad or afraid often
If your child is showing some of these symptoms it may be helpful to take him/her to a psychologist for an assessment. Psychological health is paramount in developing children. Parents may feel overwhelmed or lost as to what to do. Seeking psychological help will give you and your child the necessary skills to understand and cope in the future.
After making an appointment, an intake interview is scheduled with the parents or caregivers. This initial interview is used to gather information about the child, the family and the presenting problem. After this, the therapist will see the child to make an initial assessment. An assessment allows the therapist to decide the best treatment approach for the child.
Play therapy usually occurs in weekly sessions for an average of 20 sessions lasting 45- 50 minutes each. However, this will differ depending on the problem and the support of the parents. We integrate parental counselling with play therapy as we believe that it is vital that parents are supported and given the necessary skills and understanding to develop a better relationship with their children.
Problems We Assist With
Life adjustments - divorce, loss, moving house or school, new sibling
Behaviour issues - such as anger, self harm, tantrums, discipline
If the problem you are facing is not here please contact us as this is not an exhaustive list.
Have a look at our psychological and mental health resources.