Jessica Carmean, MS, Licensed Mental Health Counselor is an Orlando Counselor with extensive training in play therapy. In this post she shares how play therapy is helpful to children.
The most predominant question that I get from parents is, “How can play therapy help my child?” The main goal of play therapy is to help a child with the anxiety, emotional conflicts and symptoms that presented themselves prior to seeking therapy. A secondary aim is to work with a child and family to remove barriers that interfere with the child’s optimal development. Here are some of the general goals that play therapy provides to children and families.
*Children learn to respect themselves and others. As a therapist, I model respect regardless of a child’s behavior and in spite of extreme displays of emotion. I will always communicate constant regard – whether they are displaying aggressive play or asking for help even for the simplest of tasks. In doing so children will internalize self-respect and then begin to model respect towards others. They also learn how to build positive attachment by getting their needs met by a safe adult, which in turn builds trust.
*Children learn that all feelings are acceptable. Once they experience acceptance of even the most undesirable feelings, then they begin to feel safe expressing their true emotions. They no longer feel the need to hide undesirable emotions therefore eliminating the need for volatile tantrums and obstinate behaviors. The underlying emotions, once accepted, lose their intensity and control over your child.
*Children learn responsibility for themselves– Parents, although well intentioned, often take charge by doing things for their children that they are capable of doing for themselves. This deprives the child the ability to experience what it’s like to take responsibility for a task. During the therapeutic process, every opportunity to engage in independence is utilized creating an internal sense of strength and self-assurance.
*Children use creativity and ingenuity to solve problems- We use games, art, and toys as a medium to address deeper feelings and complex situations. Children are given space to develop their own solutions and to complete their own tasks. We then (Play Out) those solutions and explore any feeling derived from the outcome. Children will gain the confidence to slowly tackle their own problems, even those that were formerly overwhelming.
*Children learn to love and accept themselves. – The therapist teaches and models unconditional positive regard. Children learn to accept themselves through self-exploration and embracing every aspect of their personality. We embrace the unique qualities and characteristics that each child embodies. They learn to use their individual strengths as a platform to achieve personal success.
These are just some general areas of improvement seen when your child enters play therapy, and of course more specific goals will always be addressed. If this sound like something that could greatly benefit your child we have some great therapists on staff that specialize in play therapy, including myself- Jessica Carmean, Amy Smith, & Juliana Ochoa. Please reach out and give our office a call today (407-355-7378) in order to take the next steps for your child and family.