Every time Angie (four-years-old) would come in the playroom, she would go directly to the dollhouse. Without saying a word, she would play with the doll family, enacting scenarios of her family going to bed and waking up. Every week, she played the same themes. She played in silence and her play therapist allowed Angie to lead the way. Her play therapist didn’t solve problems for Angie. She validated Angie’s feelings and let her know she was there watching and listening.
Her therapist provided a safe environment for her to express her feelings and explore her surroundings so she could find the toys that she needed to tell her story. Her play therapist showed her that she was present in the moment and that she cared and understood. She acknowledged that she could hear Angie’s words as she silently played for several weeks.
One day, Angie came in the playroom and announced, “I don’t want to talk about my family anymore. I want to do something else.” The play therapist validated and acknowledged her wishes. She reminded her that she could choose to play and do anything she wanted as long as it was safe for people and things. Angie decided to paint. She proceeded to paint beds and rooms, and family members. Angie did it in silence. She was obviously still working through her trauma and this time through a different medium in the playroom.
Her play therapist verbally recognized and encouraged Angie’s efforts during each session. Though Angie was silent for a few weeks, her play therapist was verbally active to ensure Angie knew that she was interested in her play and in what she had to say.
After two sessions of painting, she chose to play with a variety of toys. It seemed like she was done telling her story. The repetitive play themes subsided. She also began to express herself verbally. Her play therapist had been a witness and a facilitator for Angie so she could come to terms with the scary family event she had witnessed.
Angie’s story exemplifies how powerful play therapy can be to help children heal emotionally, process a trauma, and work through other challenges they may have experienced or may be undergoing. Play Therapy has demonstrated its effectiveness as a mental health intervention for children. It has also been determined to be a beneficial psychological modality for all ages, genders, and challenges.
If you are concerned about your child’s behavior and inability to express his feelings appropriately, play therapy is highly recommended. Your participation in your child’s treatment has also shown to be essential to ensure long-lasting results. Do not delay calling for a free consultation to find out how you and your child can get back to enjoying life. Ensure that your play therapist is either a registered play therapist or is currently being supervised by a registered play therapist-supervisor.