What is Play Therapy…
Change and growth is born from novel experiences. The aim of play therapy is to empower and grow into more adaptable, strong beings. As is the aim for all the therapy I do with clients.
Through play a child is able to experience new states, test rules, learn roles, experiment, and develop the skill to tolerate a range of emotion in the safety of their imagination. Exploring these novel experiences builds their vocabulary and understanding of the world and how it works. They engage, interact, and adapt to the world they are figuring out through their play. As their counsellor I can help guide these experiences by using play, the child’s language, to help them organize and process their world.
I predominately use play therapy and art therapy with children. Children learn and process information through play, movement, and art. They use the “right” side of the brain as the rest of the brain develops language and verbal skills. Often times there a child will not have the words to talk about their challenges like we do as adults. It will sometimes look like we’re just throwing a ball but it can be so much more!
As a child plays, their brains can process past events, current emotions, and integrate all of this into their bodies. In session, I will be watching these changes as we play and build a relationship. Giving them the opportunity to explore their challenges in a safe place to experience and learn how to regulate. Relationship is key to this. Attachment with parents can also be facilitated through playful activities and games with their children. Taking home the play that happens in session to the home where parents can continue the growth.
Play is also important in developing regulation skills and opening the window of tolerance to handle stress. As adults, we often need to be reminded to play ourselves! I will sometimes use the sand tray with adults in order to activate the right side of the brain and encourage whole brain functioning. Sometimes we need to feel the emotion before we can move through it. Play is a great way to do this. It’s also fun. See also Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.
See the Canadian Association for Play Therapy for more details : https://cacpt.com/