Play is important to healthy brain development and allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. It is through play that children, at a very early age, engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master promoting development of new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges. Play provides children the opportunity to engage in activities that promote growth, development, and feelings of success and fulfillment.
Play therapy applies the therapeutic benefits of play to help children address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate their own needs, to interact positively with others, to express feelings, to modify behavior, to relieve their own stress, and to develop problem-solving skills. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and facilitates developmentally appropriate expression of thoughts and feelings.
In my work with children, families play an important role in the healing process. When children suffer, families suffer. In order to alleviate the pain, it is critical to explore and modify the interaction between family functioning and children's problems. At times, children's problems can cause heightened stress in the family, resulting in additional relationship strain. Other times, children serve as the "symptom bearers", with their struggles signaling the family to the dysfunction that is being avoided. As a parent/caregiver, you can expect an initial consultation to share your child's history and current concerns and regular updates (in person and written assessments) throughout treatment to ensure progress.