About Play Therapy
The Association of Play Therapy (APT) defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."
Most individuals come to therapy to address mood issues, relationship conflicts, life transitions, academic and behavioral concerns. Expressive therapies often benefit individuals struggling with any of these problems including: depression, abuse, ADHD, anxiety, family stress, anger issues, and problems with peers. For those individuals who don't respond well to traditional verbal therapies, the integrated use of art, music, dance, movement, drama/reenactment, sand tray, play, and creative writing interventions can be very effective in helping children, adolescents, and adults identify, express, and regulate their emotions. Combining different forms of therapeutic self-expression and imagination, allows people to creatively reach a level of self-acceptance and healing that may not be accessed through other interventions.
Expressive Therapies work for Adolescents Too!
Adolescence is about figuring out who you are and where you fit into the world. Playful interventions help to softened the intensity of difficult feelings and painful experiences so that teens can navigate alternative approaches and find solutions to their problems.
Why Adolescents Like Play Therapy:
1) It allows them to deal with issues in a non-threatening way.
2) Typical “talk therapy” can be too boring or too intrusive for many
3) They get an opportunity to use imagination and creativity through
various forms of expression.
4) They “experience” the therapy which usually leads to profound and
5) It is a “no-pressure” way to learn about and accept themselves, clear
emotions or thoughts, and become more mature and self-confident.
I believe therapy is most effective from a client-centered perspective, allowing each individual to determine which direction therapy takes and what pace with which they are comfortable.
Play Therapy :
develops self-esteem * aids in healthy self-expression *encourages concentration * reduces trauma symptoms * helps define boundaries * increases positive thinking * facilitates feelings expression * helps develop coping skills * fosters decision making * neutralizes anxiety reactions * eases fears and frustrations * provides sense of accomplishment * improves self-control * prevents re-victimization * supports emotional healing * enhances communication * helps practice social skills * restores bonds of attachment
Sand Tray Play Therapy:
Sand Tray Play can be used to help people of all ages process traumatic experiences, create safe place construction and express feelings for which they cannot find the words. Clients use small figures to "create a world" in the sand tray. Immersed in the physical imagery work and sensory experience, clients are able to bring internal issues to an external focus in the form of a therapeutic story, where realities, fears, and experiences can be processed and transformed.
Depending on the developmental level, communication skills, and presenting issues of each client, various elements of the following traditional talk therapies may be used. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps to identify and change unhealthy, negative thoughts which influence our behaviors and feelings. Interpersonal Therapy examines a client's dysfunctional relationship dynamics and seeks to understand why they exist and how to modify them. Solution Focused Therapy uses a direct action plan to overcome specific life issues. Psychoeducation explores possible treatments, coping strategies, and problem-solving skills in order to help clients understand and overcome their current condition. And there is usually an element of Parent Education that accompanies all of my work with children. Parents need to understand their child's experiences and learn techniques to use at home that support their therapeutic progress.