Play Therapy, Expressive Arts, and Family Therapy:
As talkative as our kids may be, children use play as their primary mode of processing emotions. Their verbal skills to process difficult emotions are limited; however, children are expressive through their play. Play therapists have been trained in observing children's play and using expressive arts to aid with the therapy process. Skills and guidance are provided to help older children learn ways to manage their emotions, develop skills of mastery, and increase social skills. I also use various forms of expressive arts when working with adolescents to help facilitate discussion and insight. Expressive arts therapy can be conducted through drawing/painting, sand tray work, psychodrama, social media, and other art forms that help children and adolescents express themselves while using therapy to gain insight, self-confidence, and mastery.
Parents are very much a part of the therapy process. Parent sessions and phone calls are held every 6-8 weeks to provide feedback and to discuss therapy goals. Depending on the presenting issue, filial therapy, a type of play therapy, may also be taught to the parents/ caregivers to help faciliate therapeutic play in the home and after therapy ends.
Play therapy is the primary mode of treatment for children when addressing issues related to behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, loss, transition, and divorce. The Association of Play Therapy www.a4pt.org is the leading source of training and research for play therapists.
Family Therapy may be recommended, or sought, when it is evident that coming together as a whole unit is beneficial in creating new patterns of communication, processing loss, or helping learn about one another in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Family therapy has rules and structure so that people do not feel targeted and new reactions can be learned when talking about challenging topics. In many cases, the entire family will be brought together; however this will be discussed in a prior session based on the ages of the family members and topics at hand.