Play is one of the most developmentally important pieces of a child’s growth path and as such it is the perfect place to affect change or to learn more about a child’s inner world. Play therapy is a form of therapy for children (+-12 years and younger) which uses the child’s natural propensity to play as a way to intervene with difficulties that they face by allowing them to express themselves freely and then observing and commenting on the process as it unfolds. It requires the child to feel safe and relaxed and needs a collaborative approach between the therapist and the caregivers to ensure the best results for the child.
This may mean either being involved with doing things slightly differently at home or by becoming more aware of one’s own struggles as a caregiver. It may also require parents to trust the process of therapy and to try not to be over-involved in the child’s therapy experience which can feel difficult for caregivers who are understandably anxious about the wellbeing of the child. My standard approach to child therapy is to try to maintain the child’s autonomy as much as possible by only reporting what I believe is necessary or urgent to the caregivers which allows for the child to develop trust in the therapy as a space for all difficulties, especially ones they are ashamed or anxious to admit to caregivers.
I schedule regular feedback sessions where I inform you of the progress of therapy and check in with you to hear about any concerns or answer any queries you might have. Perhaps a confusing factor in deciding to bring your child to therapy is the wide range of child related services out there. You may be asking yourself what type of therapist your child could benefit from? As a clinical psychologist I deal with a wide range of problems but most notably with children who have been traumatised or have suffered losses in safety or continuity of care.
I also deal with severe behavioural difficulties and family problems. If you are unsure of what to do I am always open to meeting with you and your child to assess what services would suit the child best and I always refer out if I feel that another specialist is better suited to assist with the problems you are experiencing. Helping a child when they encounter difficulties is one of the most important aspects of ensuring they grow up to be happy and lively teens and adults so if you are concerned or unsure, rather opt to speak to a professional than remain silently worried.