Frequently Asked Questions
What is play therapy?
Play therapy is a powerful and effective way to support children with their mental health and development. In play therapy, play is the language through which the child and therapist communicate about the child’s experiences and understanding of the world. Play is also the means through which the therapist supports the child in processing experiences, healing from traumas, and gaining new social, emotional, and cognitive skills.
Who can provide play therapy?
A registered play therapist is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or other licensed mental health provider who has completed an additional 150 hours of training and supervised counseling in the area of play therapy. Play therapists are accredited by the Association for Play Therapy.
Who can benefit from play therapy?
Play therapy can address a wide variety of situations, including processing common life challenges, healing from complex trauma, and supporting those with developmental or mental health diagnoses.
Young children have not yet developed the ability to fully understand and communicate their internal experiences through language alone. Play therapy allows them to process complex feelings, thoughts, and experiences through their natural “language” of play.
Preteens and Teens
As children get older, they are able to participate in a wider range of therapies, including more traditional “talk” therapies. While the ideal type of therapy will be different for each person, older children and teens can still benefit from play therapy, which at older ages can involve board games, puzzles, art, or music
Adults have a full range of therapies available to them, but play therapy can offer a unique opportunity to work through issues that have not successfully resolved with typical “talk” approaches. As all play therapists are trained licensed mental health providers, they are able to combine more traditional “talk” techniques with elements of play therapy, such as sand tray work. While play therapy with adults may look different than play therapy with children, it still involves elements of play and creative expression to support the healing process.
Play therapy can be beneficial to seniors who are experiencing a decline in their cognitive abilities. Where difficulties with cognitive skills such as short-term memory and speech pose a difficulty to participating in “talk” therapies, play therapy can provide the elderly with an opportunity to experience connection, non-verbal communication, and meaningful interaction.
What happens in a play session?
Play sessions take place in a therapeutic play room, where toys and materials have been carefully selected for their therapeutic value. Your child will be invited to play freely with whatever materials they wish. The therapist will observe your child’s play in order to understand your child’s feelings, behaviors, and cognitive processes, and will respond to your child’s play in a way that supports positive growth. The therapist will monitor how your child’s play evolves over the course of treatment. Play therapy sessions typically involve just the therapist and child, though there may be specific instances where you are invited to join your child’s play session.
In dedicated parent/guardian-only sessions, your child’s therapist will share their observations with you, and discuss their recommendations for how you can support your child’s progress outside of therapy.
What is the difference between a play session and a parent/guardian session?
The purpose of a play session is the therapeutic experience of the child. The therapist will invite the child to the playroom, and return the child to the waiting room when the session is over. Because the focus of the play session is the child’s experience, there will be minimal interaction between the therapist and the child’s parent/guardian at the time of the appointment. If there is something specific you need to communicate with your child’s therapist, we suggest you do so via email or voicemail before the session if possible.
Parent/guardian sessions are scheduled separately from the play session, and involve only the therapist and the parent/guardian (not the child). During a parent/guardian session, the therapist will work together with the parent/guardian to identify goals for therapy and monitor progress towards those goals. This is also the time for the parent/guardian to share information, questions, or concerns about the child’s behavior at home and school, and for the therapist to assist in problem solving for issues that may be happening outside of the therapy sessions.
What can I expect when bringing my child to play therapy?
Kindred has a waiting room with seating, coloring pages, and books available if you arrive early. Typically your child will accompany the play therapist to the playroom on their own, though there may be specific circumstances where you are invited to join the play session. You are welcome to wait in the waiting room, in your car or outside on the grassy lawn. However, we do ask you to stay on site during the therapy session, in case your child needs you or the session unexpectedly ends early.
After the therapy play session, the therapist will accompany your child back to the waiting room. We recommend giving your child the freedom to choose whether and how much to share with you about their play sessions. Your child’s therapist can answer specific questions about the play sessions during your parent/guardian sessions.
What should I tell my child about play therapy?
We recommend giving your child simple and accurate information about play therapy. You can explain that they will be going to play therapy to see a play therapist, which is someone who plays with children and supports them in having a happy and healthy life. If your child is aware of struggling with a specific issue - for example, “sad feelings about friends” or “feeling nervous about school” - you can explain that play therapy can be really helpful during those times.
What should my child wear to play therapy?
Art materials are available in the playroom, including paint, glue, glitter, clay, and sand. Play therapy can also involve movement and active play. Please dress your child in comfortable clothing that your child can play in without concerns about stains or mess.
What if my child has to miss school for play therapy?
Sometimes our only available appointments are during school hours. It can be helpful to ask your child’s teacher if there is a specific time of day that would be easiest for your child to be absent. Appointment times that have worked well in the past include near the beginning or end of the school day, during specials or over the lunch hour.
This document was created in March 2022 by Kate Weir, Ed.S, M.Ed., LPC-S, Registered Play Therapist, and Nadia Vizitei. Questions or comments can be sent to Kate@kindredcollectivecomo.com
Copyright © 2022 Kate Weir