Play Therapy

Play Therapy places children in a setting where they are in charge and helps them work out their issues through safe and guided therapeutic play situations. The CAC has a Master's level Registered Play Therapist Supervisor and a fully equipped Play Therapy room to offer these services to young child victims.



What is Play Therapy?

Sometimes very young children do not have the verbal skills to participate in traditional "talk therapy" and they frequently have difficulty talking about what is bothering them. This is not because they don't want to discuss their thoughts and feelings, but because they haven't yet developed the vocabulary or the thinking skills that they need to be able to do this. In addition, older children may be too traumatized by their abuse to benefit from traditional therapy.

That's where play therapy comes in. Play therapy is an approach to counseling children that allows them to use toys and other play and art material to express their thoughts and feelings. In a play session, children can use their play to show the counselor what they are thinking and feeling. The counselor can use the play to communicate with children about what is happening in their lives and to help them explore alternative behaviors and attitudes.


What do I Need to Know if a Child Under my Care will be Receiving Play Therapy?

Before the first session, parents and/or caretakers will need to explain the details of how often children will be coming to play therapy, where it is, and basically what happens. Children seem to feel more comfortable if adults let them know that they do not have to talk to the counselor if they do not want to do so, and that the main thing they will be doing is playing. It can also be important for the adult to give children a simple explanation of their perception of the presenting problem and to suggest that children feel better about themselves and other people after going to play therapy for a while. This helps get rid of children's fears about coming to counseling.

Since children frequently play in the sand or paint, they should wear comfortable play clothes to play therapy. It is a fun process and sometimes it is messy.
After a session, while it is appropriate for parents and/or caretakers to let children know that they are interested in the children's experience in the play session, they should not question them about the experience. If children draw or paint pictures or produce other art work, parents and/or caretakers should avoid questioning them about the art or praising or criticizing them.

In order to help build trust in the relationship with the child, counselors keep what they do and say in the play therapy session private. Instead of talking about specifics, the counselor consults with parents and/or caretakers about different ways to understand children and strategies to help them feel better about themselves and get along with others.


Where Can I Learn More About Play Therapy?

A book that can help parents and children to learn more about play therapy and what happens in the play session is: A Child's First Book about Play Therapy by Marc A. Nemiroff and Jane Annunziata, American Psychological Association (APA Order Department, P.O. Box 2710, Hyattville, MD 20784).