Child Play Therapy in Wheaton, IL
When asked about play therapy, one of the common questions we hear is, “Why do I have to pay a therapist to play with my child? Can’t I just play with them at home for free?” This is an excellent question. The play therapy that takes place in the therapy office is not the same as playing with your child at home. When a child client is brought into our practice which has experienced an adverse life event, we almost always use client-centered play therapy as the first therapeutic intervention. There are three main reasons why play therapy is so helpful for children.
First, the basic premise to understanding play therapy is understanding the concept of play as being a natural language for children. Think back to your childhood. Did someone teach you how to play tag, hide-and-seek, or play in the sand? I know for me. Did you sit down with your son or daughter and teach them how to play with stuffed animals trucks or how to play tea time? Of course not. It all comes naturally to children. The natural language of the play is not specific to any one culture, race, social-economic status, gender, or faith. Children worldwide use play to help them express their emotions. Play therapy understands this concept and utilizes this natural language to children to facilitate healing. When we have a 6-year-old in our office who is struggling with understanding how to live life as a Type-I Diabetic and the limitations that come with that, we don’t have them sit on the couch and talk about it. We allow him to use toys and to express the internal conflicts and emotions he might be feeling.
Second, play therapy creates a safe environment for the child to explore their internal state of being. Play therapy allows for a safe space for the child to explore and communicate their internal emotions. Play therapy is typically voluntary, enjoyable, and non-threatening. For example, if a child experienced a sexual assault, their play might be sexualized. In the session, I would never tell a child, “You can’t play like that” or “don’t do that. That’s not good.”
Third, play therapy facilitates teaching and learning. There are three main interventions that therapists use to facilitate teaching and learning. They are tracking, a reflection of content and feelings, and limit setting. In reflection, the therapist reflects or paraphrases the content and feelings being expressed in the session. In young children, this is what helps the child name the emotion. They might be feeling out of control and angry but not know what the emotion is. The therapist can help the child put a name to the emotion they are feeling. Reflecting content validates children’s perceptions of their experience and clarifies children’s understanding of themselves. Lastly, the limit setting allows for teaching boundaries as being a vital part of feeling safe. When a child experiences an adverse live event, there is a high likelihood that some type of boundary was violated. Setting limits in play therapy models to the child how they can set their own boundaries and rebuild ones that were broken.
Kids were created to be resilient, and play is a natural language and can be created out of anything because there is no limitation to the imagination. We use your child’s resilience to help them heal from their adverse life events.
Children’s mental health matters just as much as an adult’s. Oftentimes, depending on their age, traditional forms of psychotherapy will not be beneficial to the child because it is difficult for them to understand and process complex thoughts and emotions. If your young child is showing signs of emotional distress, reluctance, or repression, child play therapy is a wonderful option.
Child Play Therapy for Wheaton, IL
At Life Redefined Clinical Counseling, we have compassionate experts who can work with your child through play therapy to help them fully express their emotions and work through troubling thought processes. A child’s play is a completely multicultural approach and breaks through many boundaries, so no matter your child’s background or status, it can be a very helpful tool for us to help your child.
We truly care about your child and their well-being, and we look forward to helping them.
To learn more about our comprehensive child play therapy approach, continue to explore this page.