What parents should know about play therapy

Your child or adolescent may participate in play therapy as a part of therapy at Life Skills Resource Group.  Play therapy might involve building, books, arts and crafts, puppets,  figurines, board games, or pretend games like house, restaurant, doctor, or dress-up.  Play therapy might look a lot like just playing, so it is reasonable to wonder what makes play therapy different from just playing.

Orlando play therapy!

Orlando play therapy!

Children often do not have the words or the understanding of their feelings to talk through what is going on for them.  They may not be able to explain why they feel or act a certain way.  In fact, many adults even struggle to answer these questions.  At younger ages play really functions as a child’s way of expressing him or herself.  Play is essentially words for kids.  Play therapy offers a non-verbal way for children and even adolescents to process their feelings, their actions, and what is going on in their lives.

Most of the time you will probably will not be involved in your child’s play as part of play therapy.  However, if your child does invite you to join in play therapy, there are some things we’d like you to know:

  • It is important to respect that the child is the authority on the play.
  • Be careful not to interpret what the play means or what any particular item in play represents.  If a child is using a dog puppet, but is using it to represent a wolf, we want to call it a wolf.
  • The way for us to figure out what the play means to the child is to ask.  Ask open questions (not yes or no questions!) about the play rather than commenting on the play.
  • Good things to say include “What would you like to tell me about what you did today?”, “Tell me more about this (with pointing towards what you’d like to know about).”, or “What is that like for you?”
  • If the play (for example, a puppet show) is about anxiety for the child, it can be confusing for the child to hear you say it is “very nice”, “scary”, or any other comment.
  • If your child chooses not to tell you about his or her play, we encourage you to accept this.

If you have questions about play therapy, we encourage you to ask your child or your child’s therapist.  Questions are always welcome!

If you’re interested in Orlando play therapy, Orlando child therapy, or Orlando teen therapy, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378.  Our Orlando child counselors Amy Smith and Jessica Carmean are experienced and ready to assist you, your child, or your teen with play therapy.  Play therapy can help with child anxiety, child depression, child grief, child anger, child trauma, divorce, and many other issues children could be going through.  Not sure if play therapy would be right for your child?  Give us a call and our counselor-in-training will be happy to assist you in finding the Orlando counselor that is right for you!

Krista