Play is often seen as a fun activity children do to fend off boredom. It is actually a means that they use to communicate what is going on in their worlds. Play is also an opportunity for children to learn better coping skills in a way that appeals to them. At Positive Mind Wellness, we have play therapists that are able to engage with your child either in-person or online through play to address a range of emotional, social, and behavioural issues.

What is Play Therapy?

Play therapy falls under the larger umbrella of child therapy where the play therapist interacts with and observes the child at play. Since children do not have the vocabulary to fully articulate themselves, play is an important part of gaining an understanding of what is happening to them and how they’re processing it.

It is useful in observing and addressing a range of symptoms, including emotional dysregulation, inadequate social skills, and behavioural issues.

Play Therapy Techniques

Effective play therapy is tailored to the child’s needs and developmental stage. Play therapy techniques fall into two categories: directive and nondirective. The directive approach involves the therapist specifying the toys or games the child will use in the session.

The non-directive approach lets the child play with the toys in a more open-ended way. Specific techniques that fall into these approaches include arts and crafts, creative visualization, dancing, musical plays, role-playing, storytelling, and water and sand play.

When Can Play Therapy Be Effective?

Child play therapy can be used to address a wide range of symptoms. It creates a safe space for children to explore and express their emotions. It’s helpful when a child needs to process family issues such as abuse, divorce, domestic violence, neglect, health issues, and grief.

It can also address behavioural issues like aggression, eating disorders, and toileting disorders. We can also help children better cope with challenges that come from neurodivergence, as is the case in autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, developmental delays, and learning disabilities.

Our Play Therapy Services

We believe that every child is unique and tailor our services to each child. Our ultimate goal is to provide the support children need to process and express their emotions in a healthy manner and give them helpful coping strategies.

Examples of play therapy toys that can be used in sessions include action figures, blocks, construction toys, dolls, masks, puppets, stuffed animals, and toy phones.

Benefits of Play Therapy

There is a wide range of benefits of play therapy. It addresses children’s needs holistically, so we guide children to emotional, academic, and social wellness and help build their competence and resilience.

Therapeutic play can be used to aid in the development of the following skills:

Emotional processing – Children often struggle to find language that accurately describes their feelings. They also struggle to make the connection between their feelings and the resulting behaviour or thought patterns they express. Whether it’s working through feelings surrounding loneliness or processing more traumatic events like natural disasters and violence, play helps children articulate themselves in a practical way.

Relaxation – Sometimes children can feel tension in their home or school environments. For example, if their parents are going through a bitter divorce or if they’re being bullied or excluded at school, they can find it difficult to relax. Play therapy gives them a safe space where they can relieve their tension, which is mentally refreshing.

Emotional regulation – During certain stages of childhood or following distressing events, a child’s emotions may be unstable. However, there are times when a child struggles to regulate their emotions in a way that is expected for their developmental level and is proportional to the situations they encounter. Common emotional issues that can be addressed through play therapy include anger outbursts, frequent crying, sulking, and moodiness.

Social skills – One of the key tasks of childhood is figuring out how to relate to those around you. Children can sometimes struggle to do so positively because they lack the self-esteem or social skills that would make this process smooth. Important skills we help children develop to help them socially include empathy, respect, setting boundaries, and negotiation skills.

Behavioural challenges – When a child struggles to regulate their behaviour, it can have many negative effects on their ability to maintain meaningful relationships, accomplish goals, and be at peace within themselves. Whether it’s due to a learning or mental disorder or due to trauma and other adverse experiences, play therapy benefits them by teaching them more appropriate ways to act.

Routines – Children often struggle when there is inconsistency in routine. Common reasons that a child’s routine could be off include parental separation, the loss of a parent, and neglect. Play therapy can unlock areas where an inconsistent routine is affecting the child and help both the child and parent learn how to bring more consistency to routine.

Positive supportive relationships – To develop into a healthy adult, a child needs to build and sustain positive relationships. It can be hard for a child to differentiate between relationships that build them up and those that tear them down. Through a supportive relationship with the play therapist, the child can better understand what a positive relationship looks like.

How it Works

Although therapy is conducted between the child and play therapist, the active involvement of the parent is necessary to build upon and track the skills being developed in therapy. This is why we involve parents from the outset and have frequent parental reviews to discuss the child’s progress. The exact steps we take are available in more detail below.

(Consent from both parents is necessary if shared custody) This interview is to exchange information regarding the play therapy process. It is the first step.

Although the therapeutic play is a collaborative process, the sessions are conducted between the child and the therapist. As such, meetings need to be conducted throughout the therapy process. Parents can expect an initial meeting, then parental review appointments approximately every 5 sessions.

These sessions take place between the therapist and child, so you are invited to have a quiet safe space for your child to interact with the therapist virtually.

These sessions are intended to report any general themes in the child’s play in order to facilitate their further development. This is when helpful strategies, findings, and topics of relevance are discussed. The frequency of these meetings is generally every 5 sessions or so, depending on the need.

Start with a Complimentary Discovery Sessions

Play therapy is a wonderful and necessary tool to unlock a child’s inner life and help them better cope with their internal and external world. We have several play therapists here at Positive Mind Wellness that can help your child navigate issues that are impacting their ability to cope day to day. For more information or to get started, contact us today through our website or by phone.

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