“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”Plato
While adults use talk as the language with which to engage in therapy and communicate their challenges, children use the language of play. Play is a way for them to both communicate what’s going on around them as well as to work through their struggles. Play becomes a reflection of the child’s developmental stages and an expression of their own personal traumas.
“A play experience is therapeutic because it provides a secure relationship between the child and the adult, so that the child has the freedom and room to state himself in his own terms, exactly as he is at that moment in his own way and in his own time”Virginia Axline (1950) Progressive Education
If you believe that your child would benefit from play therapy, I would ask to meet with all guardians of the child. If one of the parents is unavailable to meet, I would, at the very least, need to talk to them on the phone and have signed consent for play therapy. During our first meeting, I would ask the parent to share with me what they think is going on for the child and why they think the child would benefit from therapy. I might ask you how you will know the child is doing better in their life.
The first session with the child, would be solely in the play room. I invite the child to explore the play therapy room completely and to engage in play as they feel inclined. During the first and subsequent meetings I will assess your child and monitor for themes in the play. I will choose appropriate times to interject in the play to attempt to change or move the theme, thus allowing some healing and growth for your child.
Children are entitled to confidentiality just as adults are, and this allows them to move forward in safety during the play. I will often meet with the parents / guardians after five or six sessions to offer feedback about the play and themes, but will first talk to the child about what I will share. Just like adults, children’s struggles don’t occur in isolation of their social structures, so I often ask parents / guardians to consider making changes in their own environments (i.e. address trauma, chaos, parenting tasks, etc).
If you have questions about whether play therapy is appropriate for your child, please feel free to call me and talk on the phone.