I am very experienced in therapy with children. I work with children as young as two years old, as well as with older children and adolescents. I use a variety of treatment methods with children, depending on the age of the child. For children under six, I primarily use play therapy. For children between six and twelve I use a mixture of verbal and play therapy interventions. I sometimes include the parents in the sessions of the children and often consult with the parents separately for a portion of each session.
I am one of a few Registered Play Therapist-Supervisors in Kansas. My office includes a special room for therapy with children. I generally prefer to meet with the parents without the child on the first visit in order to get a history and discuss the therapy approach I will use and how to prepare the child.
What is play therapy?
Play therapy refers to a variety of treatment methods which make use of the natural benefits of play.
Why use play in therapy with children?
Play is a natural form of communication for children and is the most natural way for them to resolve emotional issues. Even children who are quite talkative are not usually developmentally able to fully express their feelings verbally or to fully benefit from the "talk therapy" designed for adults. Play therapy allows children a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows them to express their true thoughts and feelings in ways best suited to their developmental level.
What is a play therapist?
A play therapist is a trained mental health professional who uses play with a child in such a way that the child can systematically address and resolve his/her problems. The Association for Play Therapy is an organization that credentials professionals who have advanced training and experience in play therapy. The credentials available through the Association for Play Therapy include the "Registered Play Therapist" and the "Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor".
Who can be a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor?
A Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor must:
- have a Master's degree in a medical or mental health profession,
- be licensed or certified in his or her field,
- have 150 clock hours in instruction in play therapy,
- have at least five years (5,000 hrs.) of clinical experience post-Masters,
- have provided a minimum of 1000 hours play therapy experience,
- have documented receipt of both general and play therapy specific supervision,
- receive continuing education in play therapy in order to keep the credential.
Is play therapy an accepted, effective treatment modality?
Play Therapy is not a new or experimental therapy approach. It has been used and researched for over sixty years. Among therapists who specialize in therapy for children, it is widely accepted as a standard treatment.
Why are some health professionals, and even mental health professionals, not well informed about play therapy with children?
Professionals have generally not been routinely trained or informed about therapy practice with children during their years of college education. Most training in psychotherapy focuses on treatment methods for adults. Therapists who work with children generally have had to seek out opportunities for advanced training after they have begun experiencing the frustration of trying to apply therapy methods designed for adults to therapy with children. Like many mental health professionals, I worked with children as a social worker for several years before I received any play therapy training or any information about it's effectiveness compared to other forms of treatment with children. My own experience has been that when I received training in play therapy, the results of my efforts at counseling children improved dramatically.
What does the scientific research say about play therapy?
Play therapy has been researched in many studies for over 60 years and has generally been found to be an effective modality for therapy. Research on the effectiveness of play therapy with different types of issues can be found and downloaded from the website of the Association for Play Therapy: http://www.a4pt.org/