Play Therapy at LFCS
Blog by Rose Schaedler, LFCS Therapist
First, what is play therapy? According to the Association for Play Therapy, it is described as:
“… a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children (Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002; O’Connor & Schaefer, 1983). The curative powers inherent in play are used in many ways. Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings (Gil, 1991). In play therapy, toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language (Landreth, 2002). Through play, therapists may help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits (Pedro-Carroll & Reddy, 2005).”
There are many types of approaches used in therapy. Some you may have heard of are cognitive, behavioral, client-centered, holistic, or psychoanalysis. Play therapy is a specific approach that, while it can be used for all ages, is primarily used with children. Play therapy works well with children as play is the form of expression children naturally use. For many kids, being able to verbalize their feelings or experiences is something they are not able to do given where they are developmentally. For example, a 3 year old involved in a severe car accident may not be able to clearly state what happened and how they felt at the time, however they are able to recreate what happened via play or to express their feeling (sad, angry, scared) through play. This enables them to process what happened and how they felt and to begin to heal. Play therapy is not just giving a child a pile of toys, however. Play therapists receive a minimum of 150 hours of specialized training after completing a Master’s Degree in counseling or other related field. Even the toys present in the therapy office are specific in order to adhere to the theoretical approach and ensure that a child will be able to fully express themselves.
Play therapy can be a great fit for children who have experienced trauma, loss, abuse, neglect, have behavioral problems, and for children with autism spectrum disorders. LFCS has Registered Play Therapists in both their School-Based Counseling and Counseling programs to ensure that no matter the age or ability of a child, their voice can be heard.
For more information on play therapy, go to: www.a4pt.org