"Enter into children's play and you will find the place where their minds, hearts, and souls meet." - Virginia Axline
Photo by Angela Pidala
What is Play Therapy?
Play is the most natural form of communication for children. Their toys become the words through which they express themselves. This is why Child-Centered Play Therapy can be such an effective approach for helping struggling youngsters by meeting them where they are emotionally and cognitively. Play Therapy is an evidence-based method for addressing children's behavioral, mental health, and trauma-related concerns. Within the safe space of the playroom and therapeutic relationship with the play therapist, play allows for integration of the whole brain. It enables the child to process difficult emotions and experiences they don't fully comprehend yet.
The goal is to support the child's growth in emotional regulation, learning coping skills and reaching any other identified treatment goals. Research demonstrates that parent involvement is critical for seeing real change. Therefore, parenting support, psychoeducation, and recommendations are typically provided during parent consultation sessions as part of the child's therapeutic journey.
Who is Play Therapy for?
Play Therapy is primarily effective for kiddos between the ages of 3 years old and 9 years old. We specialize in seeing the littles children as young as 2.5 years old. A lot of the Play Therapy kiddos come to see me often are struggling with:
big feelings, some anxious tendencies and lots what-if questions, maybe warnings of getting kicked out of daycare for behavioral problems (or already kicked out of daycare), challenges with transitions or change, such a sibling conflict, a new baby brother or sister, or a big move
an autism diagnosis (new, suspected, or previous diagnosis)
kiddos who have been adopted, maybe they had some past trauma or abuse they experienced before the finalization of the adoption, or are struggling with attachment and the transition into a new home and new family
These are all common challenges children may face and can be supported through Play Therapy.
How do kids benefit from Play Therapy?
The Association for Play Therapy has identified four primary therapeutic powers of play therapy. This means there are four main categories of positive change that can be facilitated through the play therapy process, providing real evidence of its effectiveness. The four key benefits of play therapy are: it facilitates communication, fosters emotional wellness, enhances social relationships, and increases personal strengths. Each of these skills that a child develops during the play therapy journey will support them outside the playroom as they learn to navigate their environment and reach the identified play therapy treatment goals.
Did the trauma my child experienced at such a young age impact them?
You may have heard people say, "Oh don't worry, they are so young, they don't know what's going on; or they don't understand, so they'll be fine..." Trauma, which can be defined as, an emotional response after living through a distressing event, often times life threating, or threatening safety (or 'sense of safety'), can impact individuals even in utero. No, they might not be able to hear, understand, and truly know what is going on, but their body experiences the stress and intensity of the situation, which can result in that emotional response we call trauma.
Kids who have trauma might have experienced a pregnancy where substances/alcohol were consumed, a complicated delivery or necessary medical treatment in the NICU postpartum, an unexpected move or big change, a natural disaster or car accident, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, neglect, witnessing abuse or violence, divorce, or loss of a parent (whether physically by death or emotionally/mentally by the parents' own mental health concerns).
Trauma in kids can look differently as well and may not be as obvious. They might struggle with big feelings, withdrawal, excessive tantrums, separation anxiety, fear of other, nightmares, negative self-talk, and even self-harm.
Now, kids are SO resilient and can absolutely move through these trauma responses with the proper support. Play Therapy is a great option that can help a child heal from trauma and the emotional responses from their distressing experiences.
Never taken your child to therapy before? Unsure if it is a right for you and your child? No worries! I always start off the counseling process with a FREE consultation. It is so important to feel connected with your child's counselor and that they can support your child's specific needs. That's why I do a free consult! It gives us the opportunity to meet first, before committing to anything. You will have the chance to share in general what brings you to counseling at this time, share general goals for therapy, and get to know me, my practice, and how I might support your child's specific needs. You can ask any questions to relieve any hesitations, nerves, or uncertainties you may have about the process. Typically some psychoeducation on what to expect, what is play therapy, and how it could benefit your kiddo is also offered during this free consultation. Once we ensure this is the right fit, we will schedule an intake session to gather more background information.
The first session will be conducted with at least one parent (or caregiver) without little ears present, so we can have the opportunity to discuss presenting problems or concerns freely, and develop treatment goals for your child. I will use this time to ask questions about your child's early development, current functioning and behaviors, both positive and negative. It is an honor for me to be invited into your child's private experiences and have the opportunity to guide you and your family towards living a meaningful life. My goal is to meet your child where he/she is and provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
RATES: $190 per session (reduced rate options available)
LOCATION: Online/Virtual options available in addition to in person sessions available at an office located in The Woodlands, Texas (North Houston)
Play Therapy Sessions
The following sessions will be solely with the child and clinician in one of our playrooms. This will be a special play time where your child will have the opportunity to play out his/her thoughts and emotions. Your child will be able to play with whatever toy they choose in almost any way they like, while I track behavior and reflect feelings. I will be looking for metaphors and themes in their play, but through following your child's lead. There is no prescriptive number of sessions to reach treatment goals, but typically every six sessions we will have another parent session to discuss progress and growth thus far.
RATES: $165 per session (reduced rate options available)
LOCATION: In person sessions available at an office located in The Woodlands, Texas (North Houston)