Children With Julia

  • What Is Child-Centered Play Therapy?
  • Are you worried your child doesn’t feel empowered?
  • Does he have behavioural or emotional issues?
  • Does she lack self-confidence or self-esteem?
  • Have they experienced a trauma or loss?
  • Do you find yourself wondering, “What is Play Therapy?”

Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) is a research backed treatment administered by a specially trained professional. Talk psychotherapy with adults treats emotional and behavioural disorders, and CCPT is the same process adopted for children. It meets the child where they are at, at their level of communication, instead of asking them to use adult communication that is unfamiliar and unavailable to them.  Child Centered Play therapy requires a great understanding and familiarity with the point of view and the mind of a child. Abundant research supports its effectiveness to treat a whole host of child emotional and behavioural issues.

It truly seems like magic how well play therapy works! But, the truth is that there is nothing magic about it, it’s just solid science and proven results.

What Is The Difference Between Play Therapy And Traditional Therapy?

Adults in psychotherapy are working to find solutions and “fix” themselves after the fact. A child, however, comes into therapy with a mostly clean slate, making our work together in therapy much easier.

Children generally don’t have to reprogram, undo or fix unhealthy habits. Although children who have been through inordinate amounts of stress will have some fixing to do, the majority of our work will be focused on building your child’s very self and creating self-respect. Play therapy gives your child the glorious opportunity to get it right the first time, to forge a healthy emotional foundation that will last a lifetime. That is why progress for adults in therapy is often measured in years whereas for children it is measured in months. It’s much easier to start out fresh and create a new personality than to undo decades of emotional damage. In addition, therapy in this setting serves to nip your child’s problems in the bud and can prevent issues from developing into full-blown emotional disorders later in life. What requires five years of psychotherapy as an adult may take two years as a teenager and less than twelve months of treatment as a child.

How Does Play Therapy Work?

Parents seeking an answer to the question, “What is Play Therapy?” are happy to learn that in the playroom, your child learns to be honest with his or her feelings and desires.

This golden habit can prevent many emotional disorders from developing down the road. Your child’s therapist, called an enlightened witness, notices, identifies, recognizes, tracks and reflects any feelings and desires your child experiences in play. As your child hears their experience reflected back, they gain conscious and conceptual awareness of their emotions, leading to the ability to process and resolve them in a healthy way.

Feelings and desires are automatic and spontaneous. They are not usually a product of conscious choice and fighting against them is futile and often harmful. They are, however, a critical aspect of a person’s self, and moving them into conscious awareness is an essential step in learning to understand and accept who you are.  I model acceptance of your child’s feelings so they can learn to accept them themselves. As your child becomes aware of his or her emotions, he or she can use that information to foster increased growth and self-control.

Developing the Power of Decision

Children who have practice making decisions and being self-determined grow up into much more decisive, responsible and successful adults but, unfortunately, children are often deprived of just that. At school, they’re constantly told what to do and not given choices and sometimes at home as well. However, Child-Centered Play Therapy gives them a feeling of complete control over their situation. It puts them in the driver’s seat. The child leads and I follow, accepting and supporting all the child’s decisions. This is incredibly empowering, the child thinks, “I can control my life, I can control my destiny.” This is extremely healthy and resolves many behavior problems and emotional disorders. They begin to think, “My decisions are important, my choices are meaningful, I can make correct decisions.” This boosts self-confidence and self-respect tremendously, which boosts overall happiness level. And, since most misbehavior is fueled by unhappiness, play therapy results in greatly improved behavior.

Using a technique known as tracking or reflecting, I describe each play of your child’s action and every decision he or she makes. I also reflect your child’s emotions and, using an empathetic approach, I let your child know that I understand how he or she feels. By showing interest in and acceptance of your child’s decisions, he or she gains awareness of them and feels empowered.

Play therapy enables your child to process and resolve aggressive and angry feelings.

Your child can learn to recognize and understand their anger so they can more effectively manipulate, process and resolve it. I only allow certain, controlled aggressive behaviors in the playroom, and your child learns through these few clear limits how to channel their feelings into acceptable, healthy outlets.

Some children may feel bad about themselves, your child may express their self-perceived bad qualities and bad behaviors during play. They may act mischievous and misbehave to show me that they really are as bad as they think they are. In play, your child displays their meanest, ugliest, most aggressive self and is still liked by the therapist, proving to your child that they are truly likable. When they see that I accept most of their behaviors – though I may not allow all of them – and I accept them as they are, they think, “Maybe I’m not so bad,” that is how their self-image gets fixed.


Learning to Accept Limits

Limits are set on behavior in play therapy. In addition to letting your child know what they can’t do during sessions, these limits indicate what they can do. This allows your child to truly and freely express their feelings in a healthy, acceptable way. Furthermore, when limits are set in play, your child can learn to recognize their common resentment of, objection to and desire to break the limits. They can see that their feelings are respected, and I provide harmless channels to express feelings in a healthier way that promotes self-discipline, self-regulation and self-command.

Accepting Feelings

In the playroom, all feelings, wishes, desires and fantasies are accepted and validated, helping your child learn to accept them in themselves.  Feelings and desires are natural, automatic occurrences that are out of our control. If your child is criticized for emotions they can’t control, they may start to feel guilty about an essential part of themselves. In the process of everyday discipline, your child is often taught that not only are some behaviors unacceptable, but some feelings and desires are as well. However, play therapy draws a clear line between unacceptable actions or behaviors and completely acceptable feelings wishes and needs, thus relieving any guilt they might have felt.

Child psychologists refer me children for Play Therapy!

One of the pillars of mental health is the ability to understand your own desires. I support your child as they develop the important skills of recognizing and expressing their own wishes, needs and desires. As your child gains awareness of how they feel, they learn to respect their needs and their self, giving them the tools to be more decisive and successful. Your child can gain conscious awareness of their desires and think, “My wants and needs are valid and legitimate.” Then they becomes more serious about pursuing them which means more responsibility, decisiveness and self-confidence. Your child may desire many things that they cannot have, but in play they can pretend to attain all of their desires in the presence of a supportive, empathetic witness and this satisfies them.

Common Questions about PLAY THERAPY

Can Play Therapy Really Help My Child Get Better?

The focus of discipline at school and at home is often on stopping undesirable actions. The feelings and desires motivating these actions, however, lie unaddressed and unresolved. I work with your child to skillfully uncover the feelings and desires underlying unacceptable behavior. By helping your child gain conscious awareness of these feelings, he or she can learn to process and express them in an acceptable and playful manner. Your child can recognize that others feel the same way they do, which can provide a sense of relief. Furthermore, my validation gives recognition to their feelings and removes fears that they are bad for feeling them. Finally, I encourage your child to redirect their feelings into an acceptable pretend activity. Your child can enact scenes of characters expressing anger and its consequences in complete safety while having all of his or her feelings respected.

An adult who’s hurt deeply will come into therapy and express his or her feelings in a fiery way. Having these difficult emotions validated, accepted and recognized by the therapist defuses the need to act out his anger and dissipates the intensity of his or her feelings. Play therapy is precisely the child’s version of this process of safe expression, validation and increased self-esteem.

If you’re just going to play with my child, I can do that myself at home…

Child Centered Play Therapy is a research backed treatment administered by a specially trained professional. In the playroom, I use a special technique called tracking or reflecting, where similar to a sportscaster, I reflect back to your child every decision taken, feeling expressed, or accomplishment earned. This gives the child tremendous insight into their own mind, feelings and actions, empowering them. It gives the child conscious awareness of their emotional life, one of the pillars of mental health. In addition the attitude of unconditional acceptance, belief in their ability and respect I display towards children in the playroom is immensely healing. I have seen amazing results with Child Centered Play Therapy!

If you are in Grey, Bruce, Wellington or Huron Counties and would like to have your child experience the magic of play therapy, or if you have additional questions about what Play Therapy is and how it can work for your child, feel free to give us a call at 226-230-3433 for a free 20-minute consultation.

I look forward to speaking with you!


Therapeutic Play Space

275 10th Street
Hanover, ON N4N1P1
(226) 230-3433

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