A Parent’s Guide to Play Therapy

What is play therapy?

  • Play therapy is individual intervention, which means the child has their own private space and someone who is there just for them. It offers the opportunity to work through difficulties through play, as well as talking. In using play, one engages the natural means through which children learn and express many of their feelings.
  • Therapy is not magic. It involves work for the child and the support of the parents. It can help to loosen the grip of emotional difficulty and lighten the weight on a child’s ongoing development. When needed, therapy is one among many gifts that parents can give a child who is struggling with his/her emotional world.

What is my child discussing in sessions?

  • You will naturally be curious about your child’s sessions and progress. The time in the play room is a special private time for the child and children should not feel that they need to report back to anyone, even parents. This can be difficult, but try to refrain from quizzing your child about a session.
  • Like all clients, children need confidentiality. You will receive some feedback, but your child also needs his/her own therapy space. It is likely that you will have to continue to support therapy, without knowing exactly what is going on in the sessions. You will need to trust the therapist.

Practical considerations

  • Play therapy is likely to mean a significant, fairly long term, financial, practical and emotional commitment on your part. This commitment should be thought about at the beginning. Sometimes the therapist will agree to a limited number of sessions, after which a parent feedback will take place and ongoing therapy will be discussed. For many children, a longer or more open-ended approach is recommended for the child to benefit from therapy.
  • Things may get worse before they get better. The child may be working through difficult feelings and sometimes it takes courage to ride this out.
  • Part of what is helpful about play therapy is the continuation of the relationship with the therapist and the reliability and regularity of the sessions. Therapy will take place once a week for 45 minutes. It is important for the child to arrive on time. This is a significant way in which parents can contribute to the therapy working well, otherwise the child may feel short-changed or that the therapist is not someone who is available for them.
  • If you have questions or concerns, rather arrange a meeting with the therapist than try to deal with it just before or after the child’s session. Talking about issues ‘over the child’s head’ may be upsetting for the child and there is often limited time between sessions.
  • Ongoing emotional assessment in the therapeutic process will result in an understanding of when therapy should be terminated. Termination of therapy is planned and may take place over a number of weeks. It is helpful for children to know how many more sessions there are before the goodbye session.
  • Therapists understand that parents have far more influence over their child than they do. That is why parent feedback sessions are important. An improvement in, or a continued good relationship between yourself and your child is a very much desired outcome of therapy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s