I provide Play Therapy for ages 4 - 11. What is play therapy and how can it help my child? Great question. Play therapy is a form of play facilitated alongside a trained mental health professional that helps children to “address and resolve their own” struggles. It helps them make meaning and sense of their world and the events happening to them and around them. You as a parent or guardian may have noticed kids have pretty big feelings that can be hard for them to understand and manage. You may often find yourself in frustration trying to figure why your 5, 8, or 11 year old is so afraid to get on the school bus, afraid to go to school, afraid to go make a new friend, trashes their room in a fit of anger, just can’t get along with their sibling, is refusing to do their school work and the list goes on. Play therapy is a great life-changing tool that “builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationship in the world around them. It allows children to “learn to communicate with others, express feelings, [change] their behavior, [build] problem-solving skills” and learn how to relate to others. (A4PT).
In other words, it helps them feel better about themselves on the inside so that they can show the world a more confident, creative, expressive, problem-solving, better choice maker, version of themselves. A bonus is your children's journey towards change can help you feel less like you're going crazy.
Still not sure about play therapy?
Research since the 1970s on play therapy has given this method more than four stars when it comes to successful treatment outcomes. “Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Bratton, Ray, Rhine, & Jones, 2005; LeBlanc & Ritchie, 2001; Lin & Bratton, 2015; Ray, Armstrong, Balkin, & Jayne, 2015; Reddy, Files-Hall, & Schaefer, 2005)". [A4PT]
Play therapy helps children:
- Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
- Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
- Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
- Learn to experience and express emotion.
- Cultivate empathy and respect for the thoughts and feelings of others.
- Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
- Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.
- And more…
What Play Therapy treatment I specialize in:
- Child Anxiety
- Child Grief & Loss
- Child Trauma
- Divorce Adjustment
- Emotional Regulation
What can I expect for treatment?
The first appointment is the Parent Clinical Intake (80 to 90 minutes). This is where parents/ guardians (no kids allowed) and I will take a deep dive on what the goals are for treatment, what’s been going on, what does your child and family seem to be struggling with, and completion of assessment diagnostic tools. Next comes 3-4 play therapy base line assessment sessions with the child. This allows me to bond with the child, enter their world and look for clinical “themes”.
“Clinical Themes” are patterns of play that give me an idea of what the child is struggling with. Child baseline assessment sessions are followed by a Parent consult session to debrief, revisit treatment goals, provide education, provide therapeutic guidance/ challenges (homework to be done in the home with the child) to continue growth in between sessions. This will include parenting guidance as well. Throughout treatment, this pattern will continue 3-4 sessions with the child followed by a parenting session. Recognizing that not all family needs are the same I may include parent-child sessions, family sessions, and or increase parenting sessions.
NOTE: A play base therapy assessment is not a psychiatric assessment. It is a clinical observation and conceptualization of your child's baseline behaviors such as (but not limited too): baseline of emotional regulation (how do they express emotions), tolerance level ( do they frustrate easily/ do they give up easily on hard tasks) meaning making of current crisis or situation that lead child to therapy (Example: are they demonstrating developmental appropriate grief after the death of a parent), resiliency factors, child's personal internal narrative, observing level of anxiety, self esteem and more. It is not an expert court document and not used in any way for custody recommendations. It is for treatment goal setting.
Cited by: (https://www.a4pt.org)
What About Online Play Therapy (Does it work?)
It can and it does work. As a play therapy clinician, I myself was skeptical on whether virtual play therapy could provide the same or similar benefits as play therapy in person. Since I am the type of therapist who is willing to take the risk and try, I jumped in there, started attending online trainings on implementing virtual play therapy and started applying my play therapy skills virtually with my current clients. I was pleasantly surprised with the fact that, yes, my child clients as young as 5 years old were engaged and participating in sessions virtually. Not only were they engaged and participating they were still changing, growing, healing and thriving. Parents were pleased and grateful that online play therapy was really working. Parents loved being able to pop online with me for parent consult and more. My kids' clients were thrilled they could still see me and show me their life at home. Now over 50% of my child & teens clients are virtual. Full disclosure, online play therapy is not a one size fits all. Keep in mind every child is different and has different needs. I would be happy to talk more to you about how virtual play therapy is conducted.
Video about Play Therapy
Why Choose Me? (Video)
Being a teen in today’s world is incredibly challenging which makes parenting a teen in today's fast-paced technological society that is ever-changing very confusing and hard to navigate. You are launching a child into adulthood to be a contributing member of society, I get it: It can be scary, frustrating, and rewarding.
Oftentimes parents wonder “what happened to my fun, loving, ___(fill in the blank)_____ kid. They turned 12 or 16 and I feel like I don’t know who they are anymore. They don’t want to talk to me and they tell me I don’t understand them at all”. You feel like you just can’t say or do anything right with them. You want more than anything for them to feel good about themselves again, be happy and hopeful and you feel lost on how to help them. You feel like they spend more time in their room than they do with the family or friends and when you ask how they are you get that, “good” or “fine” response followed by a closed door bedroom.
But, that’s not the only thing you’ve noticed, maybe their grades have dropped, they can’t seem to sleep at night, they have trouble with friends and they don't seem like themselves. They seem to be making more poor decisions than usual. When you try to ask or offer help they seem like they won't open up anymore. You're confused and worried and want them to feel better. You feel they may be depressed, struggling with anxiety, or curious that maybe “it’s just normal teenager stuff”.
If this sounds like you and your teen, I can offer help. I take great pride in helping parents navigate how to support their teens through hard times. I provide parents with the skills and tools to improve communication, improve attachment and bonding, and tools to support what their teen is going through and more. I provide treatment for teens who are dealing with stress, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, grief, and trauma. I help teens build up resiliency, learn to utilize their strengths, help them develop coping skills and problem-solving skills to support their healing. I help parents and teens build bridges towards one another rather than away from one another.
What Can I as a Parent Expect for Therapy? Great question.
After completing a 90-minute parent-only intake, I meet with your teen for a 45 minutes session every week for 4 sessions. This allows for your teen and me to build a therapeutic relationship, allows for me to get a deeper understanding of their struggles and build collaborative treatment goals and provide coping skills. This is followed by a parent session that allows me to provide parents assistance and strategies on how to support their teen. Further treatment will continue with a majority of sessions being individual with your teen, followed by parenting sessions and family sessions when needed. Every family situation and need is different, some families need a mix of increased family sessions and or increased parenting sessions that are decided on collaboratively.
What Will Therapy Be like for My Teen?
I use several different evidence-based and holistic treatment approaches to offer support and healing to teens. I use CBT, Narrative, Sand Tray, Art based intervention, Brainspotting, Mindfulness, lots of humor, skill-building activities, and more. Every week, I collaboratively set “challenges” with your teen. Challenges are just another way to say I’m setting in between sessions therapeutic work. After all, 45 minutes a week with a clinician is a good start and great work can be done during that time, but the work must continue in between sessions for continued change to happen.
I provide the following Teen Treatment Services:
ADHD Skills Support
Confidence/ Self Esteem Issues