What is Play Therapy? When adults have emotional problems or when things begin to bother them so much that it is hard for them to think of other things, they go to a therapist to talk about their problems and to get help with solutions. Children don’t have the vocabulary or the insight of adults, so it is difficult for them to talk about the things that worry them. Therefore therapy for children is held in a playroom where they can demonstrate their problems to the therapist.
When does a child need play Therapy? All children exhibit what adults might call “abnormal behavior” from time to time. Parents usually get worried and begin seeking help when a child either exhibits the same abnormal behaviors for a long time or when the child begins exhibiting several abnormal behaviors at once.
In general, it is wise to have the child checked first for a possible physical cause to the continuance or increase of abnormal behavior. If there’s no indication of physical cause or medical treatment doesn’t eliminate abnormal behaviors, therapy is indicated.
What if my child does something “Bad” in Therapy? There is much more freedom in the play therapy room than can be allowed in other areas of the child’s life. During that hour once a week, every thought and every action the child has is accepted (with the exceptions of hurting himself, or the therapist, or destroying property.) This freedom is necessary so that the child will feel trusted enough to reveal fears and problems which have been kept bottled up inside. Therefore, there is no such thing as “Bad” behavior in therapy.
Share information with the Therapist? It is often helpful in therapy to know recent events in the child’s life, especially those to which the child has reacted strongly. Please do not give the child the responsibility of reporting events. Telling the child to “be sure to tell your therapist…” puts pressure on the child and may seem like a punishment. You might want to mention to your child, in an understanding way, that this “…might be something you will want to work on in therapy.” If there is an event in the child’s life that you feel the therapist should know we would prefer you contact the therapist by phone or email before the child’s visit.