At WellNest Counseling we offer a multitude of therapeutic services for a variety of clients and client needs. We provide play therapy, adolescent therapy, parent support, individual therapy for young adults, and perinatal therapy just to name a few. We aim to help families become the best versions of themselves. That starts with helping families to differentiate between therapy options. Many people are unsure of what play therapy is and how it helps.
What is play therapy:
The Association for Play Therapy defines play therapy as the natural medium in which children learn to cope with their emotions. Play therapists believe the best way to reach a child is through their own language: play. It would be wonderful if your child could tell you exactly what was bothering them clearly and concisely. However, even adults struggle with that! So, to bridge the gap, we use toys to help your child communicate his or her emotions, learn coping skills for his or her big feelings, and learn to relate to others around them effectively and respectfully. The act of play provides a safe environment for kids to learn these very important life skills.
Check out this video describing why play is the perfect medium of therapy for kids.
Who needs play therapy?
Play therapy is typically used for children from 2-10 years old. Children who benefit from play therapy are those who have already used up their own coping skills and are likely now misbehaving or acting out. Kids could be experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, life changes, ADHD, bullying, low self-esteem, grief, loss, parental divorce, autism, or behavioral issues. Regardless of the individual situation, deciding whether or not to take your child to play therapy is a personal choice.
What does a play therapy session look like?
A play therapy session typically starts with the therapist meeting you and your kiddo in the waiting area. After a quick greeting, the client (your child) and the therapist then head back to the play therapy room. The play therapy room is full of toys including dolls, craft supplies, puppets, action figures, doctor kits, a play kitchen and food, toy cars, and sometimes even a sandbox. Often the therapist engages in non-directive play with the child. This means that as long as the play is safe and the child is not at risk for injury, then the child leads the play, and the therapist follows. Occasionally, a therapist will introduce a specific activity if therapeutically appropriate. Non-directive play is usually preferred because we believe that a child will take the play where he or she needs. This is similar to how an adult will talk about what he or she needs to in talk therapy. While the child is playing, therapists will use reflective responses to help grow specific skills like frustration tolerance, or social interaction skills. See my post on reflective responses here.
How long does play therapy last?
Individual play therapy sessions typically last 45-50 minutes. The number of sessions needed depends on the individual. Just like adults, some kids need just a few sessions, while others may need months or even years. Alongside your child's individual session, parents typically receive parent support in the form of parent training or parent consultations.
Where can I find a play therapist?
WellNest Counseling offers play therapy as one of our specialties. All of our therapists are trained and certified in play therapy and are Registered Play Therapists (RPT). If for some reason we are not a fit for you, you can find another RPT here.