“Every now and then, it helps to have a special place to play when things are hard”
Play therapy is a form of counselling or psychotherapy that uses play to help children communicate their thoughts, feelings and experiences in a safe environment. This child therapy uses a psychotherapeutic approach primarily used to help children and adolescence between 3 to 16 years to resolve any issues that are blocking them from moving forward and living a happy, healthy and successful life.
Play is the natural language of the child. Some children find it hard to explain what is troubling them, so they use play to communicate their thoughts, feelings and experiences through carefully selected toys in a specially designed playroom with a play therapist. Play therapy supports children between 3 and 16 years old.
Many experiences can trouble children such as difficulties at school, with friendships, illness, family changes, trauma and so on. These “troubles” can hurt the child’s brain, which leads to difficulty in daily functioning and learning at school, home, and with life in general. Something like “concentrating” sounds easy, but with a “hurt” brain it can be a real challenge.
Play Therapy helps children understand their muddled feelings and upsetting events and gives them the opportunity to find ways to cope and repair these troubles in a safe, nurturing environment. It helps the brain to heal, so that it can function normally again, which can enhance learning.
What is a Play Therapist?
Play therapists help children and families cope with stress and a variety of emotional and behavioral issues. Many kids need help dealing with issues with homework, test anxiety, bullying, peer pressure, as well as building relationships and learning to express themselves in a healthy, constructive way.
How do I know if my child needs Play Therapy?
Sometimes your child may be showing signs of difficulties at school, home and life in general. For instance, a child may experience low grades, low self-esteem, concentration issues, inability to focus or sit still, lack of friends, solo play, difficulties in self-expression and communication, showing signs of sadness, not wanting to go to school, poor eating habits, accidents, irregular behavior, attention seeking, clingy, distant, etc.
Play therapy may be appropriate for a child who struggles with:
- Confidence & Concentration
- Problem solving & conflict resolution
- Stress Management
- School/ Peer Pressure
- Social Skills
- Family & Environmental Changes
- Group work participation
- New Competences & Strengths
- Self – Esteem
- Effective Communication
- Behaviour & Emotional Regulation
- Self – Understanding, Self – Acceptance & Self – Expression
- Anxiety & Trauma
- ADHD, Autism/Asperger’s
- Developmental Delays, Learning Difficulties
Play Therapy – What to expect
Before Child’s First Visit
Before your child comes for their first visit, you will have the opportunity to talk about your child, and talk about any concerns that you may want to address and what goals you would like to accomplish. It is important to work together and discuss any feelings you may be having so that we can work through them together. It gives you and the therapist time to build a trusting relationship. You will also be asked to complete a form, which will provide Integrate HK with the necessary information that will help to assess your child’s emotional and behavioral well-being. All information provided gives the therapist the understanding of your child’s development and background in order to give the best support that your child deserves.
Child’s First Visit
Your child’s first visit is usually around 1 hour. During this visit, the therapist will explain to the child what happens in the “play room”. The child will have access to a roomful of toys and materials, of which they can play with anything they want. The therapist will explain that to keep the room safe, limits need to be set as and when needed. This visit will give the child the opportunity to meet the therapist and explore the room and its contents.
Child’s Play Visit
Your child will come once a week, for usually 12 weeks and each visit will typically last for 45 minutes. This will ensure consistency is established and that your child feels safe. In order for a child to heal, they need a safe place (the play room) and a secure attachment (the therapist). Each visit your child will be given the opportunity to lead and choose symbolic toys and materials that have been carefully selected by the therapist. During each visit, your child will be given the opportunity to play out what is troubling them; they will be given the chance to understand their muddled feelings, so that they can increase the skills needed to succeed in life.