What is Play Therapy?
Children communicate their thoughts and feelings through the medium of play. This is how they express their inner world. The role of the psychologist is to carefully read and observe the child during play, so as to gain an understanding of what is happening internally for the child.
The psychologist uses this information to design the appropriate intervention that is then also implemented through play.
I take a non-directive stance when seeing children for therapy. I invite the child to engage in free play – where the child takes the lead and can show me what is most important for him or her.
The caregivers play a pivotal role in the therapy process as they interact and engage with the child on an ongoing basis. Information provided by caregivers assist in making the therapy more meaningful and fruitful. What is more, involvement from the caregiver can also assist in strengthening the intervention provided during sessions.
Why consider Play Therapy?
A number of concerns may indicate a reason for play therapy:
- Oppositional bahaviour (such as tantrums or refusal to comply)
- Behaviour that leads to self-harm or harm of others
- Grief or loss
- Eating difficulties
- Elimination concerns (such as wetting or soiling)
- Sleeping problems
- Emotional indications (such as irritability, worrying, crying and displaying sadness)
- Self-esteem difficulties
- Lying or stealing
- Disturbances within the family
- Withdrawal or difficulty socialising with other children of own age
- Difficulty separating from caregiver
What to expect
Before play therapy can begin, it is vital for the caregivers to attend a one hour history-taking session so as to capture the essence of the presenting difficulties. This also assists in gaining a greater understanding of the problems that are faced by the family and establish what their needs are.
Following this, play therapy will commence at a set time and day of the week, where the sessions will be 45 minutes in length.
In order to provide a long-lasting and effective intervention, it is necessary to have follow-up meetings with parents after 4 – 6 sessions with the child. This will be scheduled at a different time.
This is a space where feedback can be given to parents regarding the progress of sessions and also provides an opportunity for parents to bring certain difficulties or challenges they might be facing at home.
It is essential that consistency and predictability is maintained with regards to the appointments as it will assist the child in feeling that the therapeutic space is safe and secure.