“A child’s play is his talk and toys are his words.”
As adults, having mastered words and language, we still have difficulty sharing our emotions. Many of us have thoughts and feelings that we can’t catch or identify. Imagine how difficult it is for children to express themselves. In Child-Centered Play Therapy a child is able to express his or her feelings symbolically. The toys are their words and their play is their language. A child will reenact a particular theme until he has fully expressed and processed it. When we see movement in a child’s play, we also see healing.
At Empowered Through Play we believe, as does Virginia Axline (Play Therapy, 1947), that all meaningful change occurs from within and that change includes the individual and his/her family.
Play Therapy Is:
Play therapy refers to an array of clinical treatment methods, all of which make use of the natural language of children, which is play.
Play therapy allows children to express their feelings and thoughts through play while allowing them to maintain a safe psychological distance from their problems. Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy as an evidence-based practice in working with children. We seek to help the child master anxiety through play, help parents gain insight to their child, and strengthen parent-child and family bonds to promote a more secure attachment. We also seek to work with the family as the crucible to the child’s growth and healing in the family.
At Empowered Through Play we want to help each parent answer the question: “Why is my child behaving this way now?” Children respond very positively to this special setting and to the special relationship with their therapist.
Play Therapy teaches the Importance of the 4 C's:
Courage ~ the belief that one has the
courage to handle anything that comes his
or her way
Capable ~ the belief that one is capable and
can do or achieve anything
Count ~ the belief that an individual has
value and a voice that is heard
Connect ~ the need to belong and be
connected to others and the community
Source: Bettner & Lew
The Exploration-Play-Application Sequence
When a child first encounters a new play setting he or she will behave in a manner Vandenberg (1978, 1984) described as the exploration-play-application sequence. According to Vandenberg, a child cautiously explores a novel material or piece of equipment before he or she actually plays with it. It has been suggested that this tentative exploration is a child's way of determining whether it is safe to begin play (Weisler & McCall, 1976).
Play therapy takes place in a comfortable playroom where few rules are imposed on a child, allowing the child free and spontaneous expression of feelings. The therapist, schooled in child psychology, usually has an array of toys that children can use to act out their feelings. In addition, the therapist may ask children questions about the toys they’re using that reveal hidden worries and concerns.
Play therapists pay special attention to the child’s choice of play objects, the types of play the child engages in, and well as the style of play. In addition, the therapist and child set up a trusting relationship between them that has therapeutic value. Through play therapy children learn to express their thoughts and feelings in appropriate ways, learn about the feelings of others, learn ways of controlling their own behavior, and learn how to solve problems they encounter.
How Play Therapy Works
Play is used to understand what is on a child’s mind because play is children’s natural medium of expression. While play therapy, like all therapy, is conducted by way of appointment, few rules may be imposed on the child’s play, and it is the choice of play objects and how they are used that often provide clues to a child’s developmental level, their family and social relationships, the difficulties they are experiencing in life, and their inner world. A child may be given access to trucks, toy phones and other toys, drawing and painting materials, dolls and action figures, puppets, stuffed animals, masks and costumes, sand play, and more. A child may be asked to tell a story about their family through the use of puppets. Or a child may be given a magic wand and asked to make a few wishes.
Sometimes play therapy is more directed, and a therapist might engage with the child in a play situation. For example, the therapist and child might role-play an experience the child finds overwhelmingly stressful, such as the first day of school, allowing the child to express their anxieties while discovering that their worst fears do not materialize. During the role-play, the child might be asked to play out a variety of scenarios and to come up with ideas for making them turn out as they wish, or the therapist may construct play activities the therapist believes will help a child heal from emotional injuries. As a play partner, the therapist can help children with social or emotional deficits learn to communicate and interact more skillfully.
Unlike many other forms of therapy, play therapy is directed by the child. Yet children typically draw or play out scenarios that mirror problems in their real lives. The play therapist might engage in a narrative that articulates and interprets the inner experience of the child. The freedom to direct the therapy helps children in many additional ways: It communicates complete acceptance, it helps children discover themselves, it helps them develop a sense of self-mastery, and it is a stimulus to learning new ways of behaving. Both directive play and non-directive play have their uses. Play therapists may use both approaches depending on the circumstances.
Play Therapy for Adults. While play therapy is especially effective for children ages 3-12, teenagers and adults can also benefit from play therapy techniques. More recently, play therapy has been used with adults in mental health and other healthcare settings. Since play therapy utilizes creativity and imagination, the patient may feel a sense of safety and more distance from a traumatizing or threatening experience. https://www.verywellhealth.com
Who Should My Child See for Play Therapy?
What is a Play Therapist?
According to the Association for Play Therapy: (a4pt.org) a registered PLAY THERAPIST is a licensed and certified mental health professional who has additional training and experience in play therapy. The Association for Play Therapy provides training and accreditation for Registered Play Therapists. Only those individuals who are credentialed with APT are play therapists.
A Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor (RPT/RPT-S) designation represents an advanced level of expertise, as evidenced by ongoing practice and continued education, in the field of play therapy.
Check out this great video about Non Directive Play Therapy
Making the Most of Sand Play By Sandra Crosser Ph.D.
Children have always been intrigued by sand play. They dig in sand, sift it, build with it, pour it, enjoy the feel and smell of it, pretend with it, and explore how it moves. Balke (1997) contends that, "The culture of children is threatened by mass media and overproduction of plastic playthings that are ready-made and demand nothing of the child" (p. 358). Sand, on the other hand, is well-suited to the explorative and imaginative nature of young children.
Why Play in Sand? The use of Sand Tray.
There is no right way to use sand. It invites participation; it permits children to make and test hypotheses; it stretches the imagination; it provides a potentially soothing sensory experience; and it is an excellent avenue for children to learn physical, cognitive, and social skills.
Because sand play is open-ended, the child determines the direction and path of his or her own play. This freedom then clears the way for the child to build developmental concepts.
According to the 'Constructivist Theory' (Piaget, 1945), children have an inner drive to build an understanding of their world as they explore and interact with materials. Concepts about how the world works are built gradually and become increasingly complex as the child enters a rich learning environment and exercises his, or her, freedom to play.
According to Barbara Turner, Ph.D
The Sand Play Method is a play therapy modality which consists of the child, or adult, client making whatever he or she feels like building with a wide assortment of miniature figures in a tray of sand in the presence of a trained professional. Generally this is done in silence. There is no judgment or comment from the therapist.
The miniature figures, or collection, include representations of all parts of life and fantasy. In addition, there are building materials available to make unique items when needed.
It is the “inner world,” or psyche, of the client that chooses the figures and arranges them in the sand tray. In this way, the less conscious parts of us become visible and are shared in a safe setting. This includes our conflicts, remedies, and potentials. Sand Play work is much the same as working with dream imagery. However, there are significant differences.
Sand Play work is three-dimensional and concrete so the imagery does not “fade away” as it does with dreams and some other forms of play therapy. Because the sand tray scene is constructed in concrete form the client becomes more aware of what stands in the way of his or her continued growth and personal development. It sits right in front of us in the sand tray. On a preconscious level we also become aware of our strengths and gifts because they are equally visible in the sand play. The changes that are set in place in the play later become a part of the conscious personality.
The therapist makes the inner exploration of Sand Play safe by respectfully understanding the process as the client moves through deep issues and discovers new ways of 'being' in the world.
The depth of the work undertaken in Sand play would be far too hazardous for anyone to undertake alone. The trained therapist’s presence anchors the work in reality. Without this the client could easily fall into dangerous psychological territory. The therapist and client mutually experience the powerful symbolic images that move and change the client’s psyche. The shared experience of the images in Sand Play initiates changes in the client’s neurobiological makeup which lead to his or her healing and transformation. The therapist’s capacity to understand the images and to remain connected to the client’s felt experience of the process strengthens the work and re-orders very deep issues that words and analysis fail to touch.
Sand Play is extremely beneficial in assisting children, adolescents, and adults in processing the issues listed below.
Check out this great video
AutPlay Therapy was created by Dr. Robert Jason Grant and is a play therapy method for working with children and parents affected by autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, neurodevelopmental disorders, dysregulation issues and other developmental disabilities. It combines the therapeutic approaches of play therapy and behavioral therapy together in a collaborative model to assist children and adolescents in gaining needed skills and abilities. AutPlay Therapy is a combination of behavioral and developmental methodology that is both therapist-led and parent-led.
How does AutPlay work:
Who Should my child see for AUTPlay?
Only a registered AUTplay therapist who is credentialed by autplaytherapy.com should provide you child with this service.
Check out this great video on AutPlay Therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective therapy for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other disorders such as depression, anxiety, mood disorders, sensory processing issues and other behavioral issues.
EMDR changes the way the brain responds to external stimuli. Therapy normally involves sensory input such as changing lights, gentle buzzing from handheld devices or sounds heard through headphones. As the sensory input switches back and forth from right to left, a patient tries to recall past trauma. Though the memories of the trauma remain, the chronic bodily and emotional reactions to the trauma dissolve.
EMDR is a powerful, effective and safe method for alleviating the long-term psychological impact of traumatic experiences. Much research and many studies have been done on this approach and it has been found to be safe and effective when administered by trained professionals.
Our staff’s expertise in administering EMDR has been particularly effective in the treatment of psychological trauma. For more information please visit www.emdria.org.
Check out this great video
Check out this great video