“Through play a child is able to release pent-up feelings of anxiety, disappointment, fear, aggression, insecurity, and confusion. Bringing these feelings to the surface encourages the child to deal with them, learn to master them, or abandon them. Through symbolic representation, the child gains a sense of control over events that seem uncontrollable in reality. Often, children are unable to verbally express what they are feeling; thus, in play therapy toys serve as children’s words and play as their language.” ~ Garry Landreth
Child psychotherapy interventions may vary with respect to the problem or difficulty being addressed as well as the age, temperament and other characteristics of the child. Research has shown that it is the quality of the relationship with the therapist, rather than a particular form of therapeutic intervention, that is the strongest factor in helping change develop. Child psychotherapy entails play therapy that is either directive (theraplay methods) or non-directive (child-centered play therapy).
Play therapy uses play to communicate with and help children to prevent or resolve psycho-social challenges and difficulties. It also assists them to move towards social integration, growth and development, emotional regulation, and trauma resolution.
Within play therapy, I create a comfortable, safe environment in which children are allowed to play with as few limits as possible. This space is often referred to as a playroom, and it comes equipped with a selection of specifically chosen toys that are meant to encourage children to express their feelings and develop healthier behaviors. Children’s interactions with these toys essentially serve as their symbolic words. This allows me to learn about specific thoughts and emotions that children may find difficult or impossible to express verbally. The therapist’s responsibility is to go to a child’s level and communicate with them through the medium with which they are comfortable. For children to ‘play out’ their experiences and feelings is the most natural dynamic and self-healing process in which they can engage.
WHEN DO I NEED TO BRING MY CHILD FOR THERAPY?
- When you notice emotional and behavioural changes that is worrying to you.
- When your child presents with anxieties and predominantly low mood.
- When there are drastic changes in your child’s family, home or school environment.
- When your child has been diagnosed with a mental disorder that needs further therapeutic treatment.