Is Play Therapy Right For You?
Every parent wants to choose the very best things for their child, but what do you do when your child is encountering an issue with communicating? They may be going through a stressful life situation or struggling with a learning disorder at school. No matter what the problem is, you know that communication is the key to helping your child overcome their struggles. Play therapy is one great way to help teach them good communication skills that carry over into their daily life.
If your child was tested or is struggling with something specific and you think that play therapy might help, it’s time for you to learn a little more about what to expect. Check out some of these basic principles that you need to know before you sign up for play therapy.
What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a specific type of therapy that teaches children to express themselves more accurately through the use of toys. The child is typically invited into a large playroom filled with different toys and other creative outlets. The child takes the lead on what they would like to play with and how they would like to communicate with the therapist throughout the session. While the child makes many of these decisions, the therapist is there to observe and respect the choices that each child makes.
In this type of therapeutic setting, the therapist places very few limits or rules on what the child is allowed to do. Instead, the focus is on what the child’s preferences are and the therapist goes along with their unique choices and means of expression.
The entire goal of play therapy is to encourage better communication skills and to teach children to communicate their feelings to others in a healthier manner. As byproducts of these communication skills, children often learn better problem-solving tactics and choose more positive behaviors as things begin to progress. Children eventually learn to fully express themselves through a variety of healthy means, making family life more productive.
Benefits from Play Therapy
Play therapy can be used in a number of different circumstances. Any time that a child is going through some sort of emotional situation, a play therapist can step in to help them process what is going on and learn how to communicate their feelings effectively. For example, a child whose parents are going through a divorce might benefit from this method of therapy to learn how to express their grief or anger. It might also be beneficial for a child in stressful situations such as those dealing with a hospitalization or another type of family crisis.
You can also use play therapy to help a child who is undergoing some severe situations that directly impact them. Consider using this type of therapy with a child who has experienced trauma, abuse, or domestic violence.
A child could also benefit from play therapy when a psychological assessment reveals that they are struggling with social problems or academic issues at school. It may help them to process through the frustration that they feel with a learning disorder or their attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Play therapy also benefits children with emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression, behavioral disorders, and even autism spectrum disorder.
No matter what type of situation or circumstance your child may be in, play therapy is often a terrific solution. The playroom gives your child the freedom to express themselves in a safe environment and learn how to do the same outside of therapy as well. This imperative to their success at home, at school, and in the community.
Keep in mind that play therapy mostly benefits younger children who are still at an age where they play with toys. Children between the ages of three and twelve tend to see the most benefit from this type of therapy. Older children tend to see more benefit from traditional forms of therapy such as cognitive behavior therapy or dialectical behavior therapy.
What to Expect During Play Therapy Sessions
Are you a little nervous about what you can expect during your child’s play therapy sessions? Knowing and understanding the basic premise of play therapy can give you the peace of mind you need to entrust your child to the capable hands of their play therapist. You should know that you are still expected to play an important role in your child’s therapy, even if you won’t be invited into the playroom.
Before you have your very first session, the play therapist is going to collect information from the parent about what is going on in the child’s life. He or she may then conduct a separate interview with the child to get both sides of the issue. This serves to help them make a plan for how to proceed with the child’s treatment and therapy sessions. For example, a therapist may decide that they are going to encourage a child to play with some very specific items inside the playroom based on the information that is gathered.
On the day of your sessions, the child will be invited back to a comfortable playroom filled with therapeutic toys and means of expression. There may be stuffed animals, crayons and paper, musical instruments, and dolls to give children the forms of self-expression that they need. The therapist will work with the child by asking questions and following their lead in the playroom.
Each session typically lasts between thirty and forty-five minutes. Most therapists prefer to structure their sessions so that children are only involved in play therapy for around twenty weeks or six months. This gives you a logical beginning and end date for your child’s therapy so that you know what sort of commitment you will be making to your child’s progress.
Play therapy is an extremely beneficial way to help your child learn to express themselves on a regular basis. It takes some of the pressure of traditional talk therapy away from the situation and allows your child to focus on a means of expression that works for them. Consider giving your child this creative outlet to learn and grow next time they encounter a stressful life circumstance.
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