Focused therapies and interventions dedicated to the well being of children and families.

What Is Play Therapy?

When adults have problems, they are able to articulate their thoughts verbally. They can consult a peer, a family, member a minister, a social worker, or any number of other individuals and support agencies designed to help people recognize and deal with problems. There are many therapeutic resources available for families who need assistance, but they are often offered in the same way to all age groups despite the fact that children are not capable of the same level of communication or comprehension as adults. Children can have profound reactions to stress and emotional disturbances, but they lack the experience and vocabulary to express these reactions. This can make it difficult or impossible for parents and caregivers to offer useful support to a child in need.

Children express themselves through play. A play therapist can relate to children on their own terms, using a child's natural form of communication. Role-playing offers a child a chance to relate experiences, explore relationships, and express feelings. Toys offer a representation of everyday objects and people that the child can easily manipulate and use to communicate emotions, desires, and frustrations. The use of toys and objects as representations for real people and events can help children feel more comfortable expressing their feelings about significant or traumatic events and situations. It also allows them to focus on the aspects of life that most concern them and to seek a resolution. Playing gives a child a chance to examine situations objectively. It also creates an imaginary situation which, however closely it mimics reality, can be discussed without anxiety or guilt.

Play therapy is a process that children accept naturally. It's something children already do. A child who is unnerved by the arrival of a new baby in the family will incorporate this change in their play and learn to adapt and accept the idea. Play allows children to explore new possibilities and situations in safety. A play therapist assists children with this process, and can interpret patterns in play in order to help parents and caregivers better understand and support the child. By entering the child's world, the therapist gains a better understanding of the emotional state and desires of the child.

Because children mimic and examine every aspect of the world they live in through their play, this form of therapy is appropriate for every kind of behavioural problem. It is an ideal way to help a child cope with emotional responses to trauma. Play therapy can help identify every type of anxiety, and it is a natural way to introduce new coping skills and forms of communication to children. Not all toys are appropriate or desirable for therapy. The materials used focus on exploring a child's experiences and emotions. The toys that are the most useful are toys that lend themselves well as symbolic objects and roll-playing activities. Play therapy is not an opportunity for a child to do whatever they want. It is not a free-range playroom or a distraction. The therapist sets boundries according to what the child and the situation requires. Boundries are communicated in a way that allows the child to make a choice, and to identify the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. Children are allowed freedom to express themselves, but they are expected to respect themselves, the play therapist, and the environment.

Play therapy can be used to help children deal with just about anything, including:

* Abuse and neglect
* Agression and acting out
* Attachment difficulties
* Chronic illness
* Physical disabilities
* Emotional disturbances
* Fear and anxiety
* Grief
* Hospitalization
* Self-esteem issues
* Traumatic events

Sessions are generally no more than an hour at a time, and the number of sessions required will vary from child to child. Play therapy doesn't necessarily require a long-term commitment, as the goal is to help parents and caregivers learn to understand a child's needs as well as helping the child learn to more effectively communicate needs. Please refer to assessment intake form, or Contact Us for more information.

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