Therapy for Children

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“Toys are children's words and play is their language.”
— Gary L. Landreth.

Does your child have trouble dealing with their emotions? Is their behavior sometimes disruptive to home or school life? Have they experienced sudden loss or trauma?

As they grow, children and adolescents develop social skills and emotional intelligence. This awareness helps them to develop into healthy, happy, and successful individuals. But some children have trouble processing their emotions and this often leads to behaviour that negatively impacts their school life, home life, and overall well-being.

What is Play Therapy?

Play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all applying the therapeutic benefits of play. Play therapy helps children to address and resolve their own problems and builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them.

The Association for Play Therapy 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.”

Who is Play Therapy Right for?

At every age, children can be faced with life’s challenges. The following are some of the events and scenarios that can impact a child’s mental health and well-being:

  • The death of a loved one
  • Bullying
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Moving or attending a new school
  • Divorce
  • Social anxiety
  • Depression
  • Neurodivergence

Therapy is not a quick fix to a child’s behavioural or emotional issues. It is instead a thoughtful and comprehensive process that provides children with insights and skills so that they may become masters of their thoughts and feelings. This, in essence, is how children develop into happy, healthy, and successful adults.

What does Play Therapy help?

Play therapy helps children:

  • Learn to experience and express emotion
  • Develop respect and acceptance of self and others
  • Develop self-efficacy and a better assuredness about their abilities
  • Cultivate empathy and respect for the thoughts and feelings of others
  • Learn new social skills and relational skills
  • Become more responsible for their behaviors and develop more successful strategies
  • Develop new and creative solutions to problems

Play therapy aims to help a child’s growth and development. The practice of play therapy requires extensive specialized education, training, and experience. With my knowledge and background, I feel confident working with you to set your child up for success.

How is Play Therapy Structured?

The very first session is with the parents and the therapist.  The child does not attend this session.  In this session your therapist will explore your child's past and present, and work with you to develop their therapy goals.

The next session is with the child.  The purpose of this session is to help the child feel comfortable in the therapy space and with the therapist.  A parent will often join their child for this session to help ease the transition.

The third session is one-on-one between the child and the therapist.  Over the next three sessions, your child's therapist will be working on developing rapport with your child, assessing their emotional intelligence and self-awareness, and developing a treatment plan.

Your child has now had three one-on-one sessions with the therapist.  At this point, it's recommended that you schedule a parent support session.  Parent support sessions are designing specifically for parents to discuss their experiences and challenges openly, and to receive tailored support and strategies.  These parent support sessions are held without the child present.

One-on-one sessions with the child typically occur on a weekly or biweekly basis.  Attending therapy less frequently than biweekly is not recommended, as each session builds upon the last.

The frequency that parenting support sessions occur is up to you and your family's needs.  You can talk to your therapist to determine how frequently is appropriate to meet.

How Long Will This Take?

This is largely dependent on the child; talk to your child's therapist to better determine this.

Parent Support Sessions

Booking a separate update session to discuss your child’s progress is important for multiple reasons. First, it ensures that your child’s therapy time is fully dedicated to their needs, allowing them to maximize the benefits of each sessions. Secondly, discussing sensitive information in front of children can sometimes lead to discomfort or misunderstanding on their part. By meeting separately, we can have a candid conversation about their experiences, challenges, and progress. It’s best practice to not talk about a child in front of the child, so if you have updates to share please do in a parent session - not before or after the child’s session.