Life is a game, Play It!
Let me start with a few of my favorite quotes about play and then I promise I’ll get to the point!
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -George Bernard Shaw
“Toys are children’s words, and play is their language” –Garry Landreth
This post is in response to National Play Therapy Week! In 2018, February 4th-10th has been a time for me to share my calling. As the student director on the Texas Association for Play Therapy board I have been able to post about it all week on their Facebook page, however it is time to bring it to my readers as the week comes to an end.
When working with young children it is developmentally appropriate to utilize play as a therapeutic tool. Play therapy allows a child to use toys as their words so counselors can gain insight into the child’s thoughts and emotions. Goals of play therapy include nurturing growth and developing lifelong problem solving skills in a safe space where the child can take control. As a counseling student and future licensed therapist it is my job to set individual goals with the parent and child; at the end of sessions I can periodically update parents on progress seen such as the growth of developmentally appropriate behaviors and a more positive self-concept.
So to sum that up, play therapy is a counseling specialty in which a registered play therapist facilitates a child’s ability to problem solve, ability integrate life’s complexities, and most importantly gives unconditional positive regard to your youngin’. I went ahead and linked a great video helping explain the necessity for play therapy at the end of this post.
Unconditional Positive Regard
concept developed by psychologist Carl Rogers
basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what the person says or does, especially in the context of client-centered therapy
This summer I had my first experience using play therapy language at a therapeutic overnight camp and the experience confirmed my calling. Actually that weekend was a huge push toward the creation of Project Rise Up. The way the girls responded to me and the way the environment created allowed them to open up totally boggled my mind. I heard stories of those in foster care, those who had lost a parent, those who had faced sexual abuse and let me say those stories were more inspiring and drew more tears to my eyes that next week than anything else I've ever been a part of. That is a feeling I never want to lose and an example of the safe space I hope to build in my playroom.
Here are some reasons we do what we do:
I use play therapy because I am fascinated with a child's ability to express their feelings through play.
I use play therapy because witnessing children resolve their problems in the play room makes me feel hopeful.
I use play therapy because I truly enjoy what I do and am grateful to be able to work with so many wonderful families.
I use play therapy because it allows children to feel accepted and heal.
I use play therapy because it is uses the best form of communication for children.
If you have any questions about counseling for your child, how to pursue a career in counseling, or whatever else you may have please drop a question in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to answer your questions and help you find resources in your area. Play therapy is suitable for children roughly 4-8 years old.