When young children come to our office they don’t always have the words to tell their therapist how they feel. Play therapy is used to help the child feel safe and comfortable talking about concerns or emotions they are struggling with. Different interventions will be used to change the child’s awareness and learn more about emotions and how to discuss what they are feeling. The child will feel empowered and connected with the therapist through play.
Typically it takes several sessions before the child warms up to the therapist. Each session will be anywhere from 30-60 minutes depending on the child and their needs. When the presenting issues are under control, the termination process will begin. This is a slow step-down process that will involve decreased frequency of visits. This needs to be done very thoughtfully as the child may not understand why they are being asked to leave this new safe place. This will also help with any regression of symptoms.
The therapist will work with the child, the parents, siblings, and others as needed. Legal parents/guardians are consulted frequently throughout a child’s play therapy and frequently involved in play sessions when this seems therapeutically appropriate. However, the privacy and confidentiality of a child or teen are still carefully respected so exactly what a child says or does is not disclosed to anyone. The importance of this is discussed in detail at the beginning of treatment. Family counseling may be recommended along with teaching the parents new skills to approach managing their child’s behavior or understanding what is happening emotionally with the child.