At the heart of play therapy is the troubled child who is given freedom, within the structure the therapist provides, to explore his or her ideas and feelings about self and others through play.
The experience in a child-centered play therapy setting is different from that of playing with friends, siblings, parents or other family members: the therapeutic relationship provides a specific environment. The spontaneous play of children has long been recognized as a natural form of communication.
Play Therapy is suitable for children from about 3 to 16 years of age, although it can be adapted for young people in their late teens, and even for adults, including the elderly.
The play therapy session becomes a time for the child to experiment with change, learn about choice, self-responsibility and self-direction, and resolve emotional difficulties and inner conflicts.
Play therapy is a developmentally sensitive intervention (i.e., the therapist will always take into account the chronological age of the patient/client and the actual functioning age or ages). It is common for children to regress in their play to younger stages. The play therapist is alert to this and supports the child in revisiting early experiences through sensory play, symbolic play, and whatever other play opportunities the child chooses spontaneously in the session.
It is the dynamic process between child and play therapist during which the child explores at his or her own pace and with his or her own agenda that allows issues (past and current, conscious and unconscious), that are affecting the child's life in the present to be identified, explored, and resolved.
Various child-centered play therapy models are employed to establish a therapeutic alliance and process. In play therapy, the added dimension is the child's developing relationship with the empathetic and attuned therapist. The child's inner resources are enabled by the therapeutic alliance to bring about growth and change. This helps clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.
“When you’re free, you can play and when you’re playing, you become free”
- Dr. Heidi Kaduson
(Director, The Play Therapy Training Institute, Inc.)
Children and young people who can benefit from play therapy:
May be experiencing significant interpersonal stress or conflicts at home or school.
May be exhibiting low esteem, regressive, or aggressive behaviours.
May be experiencing developmental, emotional, and/or social delays.
May have had one or more bereavements and/or other significant losses.
May have experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse, physical and emotional neglect
May have experienced a single trauma
May have experienced multiple trauma
May have witnessed domestic abuse (domestic violence)
May have parents with physical and/or mental illnesses
My have parents with physical and/or mental disabilities or learning difficulties
High School Art
Playing in Nursery
1 Day Stained Glass Workshop