How does play & psychotherapy work for kids?

Caring adults often worry that a therapeutic process will be painful for a child.  This is based on a misconception that therapy for young children is about their developing insight.  Young children are not able to describe complex thoughts and this is why play therapy is useful.  The toys and materials used by children are seen as their words and their use of these toys and materials, as the language or feelings they need to express.  The process involves the therapist building a trusting relationship with the child and providing guidance to help the child to find creative ways to resolve difficulties and make sense of their world.

Parent/s or guardians first meet with the therapist without the child present for an intake session.  A consent form is usually signed by both parents at this meeting (depending on custody status).  Then Play therapy sessions are on a one-to-one basis, once a week, lasting 50 minutes.  An initial commitment to six sessions is required at the beginning. After the sixth session there is a review with parents and then either one more session to put closure to the work or more sessions may be considered.  The parent/s sessions are for one hour.  The fee for these sessions is the same as for child sessions (70 euro).

The play therapy sessions with children include sensory work, movement, art, music, drama and role-play, puppetry, creative visualisation, storytelling, play with miniatures and sand tray worlds.  The process moves between child lead play (non-directed) and therapist lead interventions (directed play and activities) where appropriate.

This approach is non-judgemental; Children are neither praised nor blamed in the process.  The therapeutic relationship gives them the experience of  feeling understood, accepted, competent and valued.