Play therapy is a well established method for helping children.
In play therapy children play with sand trays and all manner of interesting toys. My therapeutic playroom is filled with an amazing array of toys – sand trays, puppets, a huge dollhouse, all sorts of figures, and characters, and, well, you name it – these are the tools of play therapy.
For children the play room is a very special place. It should be. A huge amount of care went into designing my therapeutic play room. It’s fully equipped to be the ideal environment for effective play therapy. Besides that, it’s a very fun place for children!
Play therapy is most definitely therapy. Children get better by playing hard, and having fun in the play room with me. Most of the time, children can’t wait to come back for their next appointment.
During all play therapy sessions I require that a parent be present in the office waiting room. This is an absolute, and non-negotiable policy.
I have practiced play therapy for many years, and have treated more children than I can count. Several years ago I made a formal, academic study of play therapy as a graduate student, and became, in 1994, a Registered Play Therapist. I also qualified at a higher level of training, Play Therapist Supervisor, which means that I am able to teach therapists who’re learning play therapy. Becoming fluent in play therapy is akin to becoming comfortable in a foreign language.
Although play therapy is based on a number of psychological theories it is actually somewhat mysterious. That’s probably true of most treatments in psychology, psychiatry, and other therapies addressing human behavior, emotions, and feelings. Play therapy is amazingly effective. In some research studies 71% of the children referred to play therapy will show a positive change, but skilled therapists working with carefully screened children achieve far better results.
During play therapy the child is provided with a safe and supportive environment. There is no risk to their emotional well being or their physical safety. Otherwise there are very few limits placed on their play. The work of children is play. They work hard during play therapy to resolve their inner conflicts and issues, but it looks like play to an outside, adult observer.
Healing in play therapy flows from the creative play of the child encouraged by a trained, but often non-directive therapist. It’s usually very easy for the child, even though they’re playing very hard. Most of the work done by the child is at the unconscious level, and usually also outside of the awareness of the therapist. In that regard, it is similar to mysterious things which happen in psychotherapy with adults.
While play therapy may be somewhat mysterious to grown people, the playroom is no mystery to children. It’s their favorite, natural environment!
Play therapy sessions last for varying lengths of time. This is always discussed with the parents before therapy begins, as are other matters related to the child. Parents are required to make an appointment with Donna Lewis to discuss their child, and play therapy, before therapy begins. Sometimes additional sessions with parents are required.
The actual play therapy sessions are very busy. Although the child is playing with me, we are working very hard, too, because of the unique, and very special circumstances and environment which I’m trained to create. Children often solve amazingly complex and difficult problems during play therapy, and more often change in ways that seem both subtle and profoundly important. Sometimes this is due to strategies arrived at during play, perhaps with the therapist’s assistance, and perhaps without the knowledge of the therapist.
All humans are faced with difficult events, circumstances, people, and conflicts. Children are no exception. Play therapy gives them a chance to learn effective methods to deal with the challenges of life. Most children respond rather rapidly to therapeutic play, but several additional sessions are required to cement the positive changes.
Some of the children I treated when they were very young are now adults. It’s been my pleasure many times to have been able to keep up with them, usually through family members, and to hear how well the therapy done in childhood stuck with them, as they continued through childhood, and the teens, and into adulthood. It is truly an amazing form of therapy.
No medication is used in play therapy, but play therapy is not contraindicated in children already taking medicines.
Play therapy involves no psychological evaluation of your child. Everything is about the therapy, and the therapy occurs through metaphor, play, and unconscious processes. As a play therapist who works with your child on a very deep level, I end up knowing them only as a child to play with. I do not know anything useful for courts, custody battles, or anything of that sort, and I won’t go to court.