Play Therapy for Children in Wichita

Hope Counseling Initiative in provides play therapy for children in Wichita.

What is Play therapy?

Children's first language is play. Spend time with any child and you will notice that they are either sleeping, fussing, or playing. Long before the child's brain has developed the ability to speak, the child uses play to explore the world and communicate with others. It is through play that children learn about themselves and the world around them. Children will play out important events over and over again until they have made sense of the event and gain some level of mastery. Play therapy helps children to comfortably explore their thoughts and feelings relevant to certain events in their life and make sense of them. Play therapy offers children an opportunity to gain understanding and mastery of life's difficulties with the support of a play therapist trained to help the child throughout this process. This often leads to improved ability to cope with frustration, decreases in anxiety and depression, improved behavior, and a greater understanding of thoughts and feelings. 

Play Therapy is most often used for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Play is a way for the therapist to observe and understand the child’s words, actions, and play style. With very few limitations implemented, the therapist provides a space of freedom for the child to candidly express themselves. Ultimately, the goal of Play Therapy is to help children better express themselves, relate to others in healthy ways, and improve problem-solving skills.

When is Play Therapy used?

Play Therapy is used to aid in the expression and processing of events a child hasn’t yet developed the vocabulary for. Improvements are seen in children who have difficulties with anger, grief, depression, and anxiety when they are treated with Play Therapy. It can help children who have social, emotional, or communication difficulties or who have witnesses stressful or traumatic events. Divorce, the death of a loved one, sexual or physical abuse, family crisis, or domestic violence are examples of events a child might be best able to process through the therapeutic practice of Play Therapy. When used as part of the testing for diagnosing children with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and other social or learning challenges, Play Therapy is pivotal in creating a treatment plan.

What to expect from Play Therapy?

Play therapy takes place in a comfortable room usually for 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Parents may be present, especially for the initial assessment. Once an assessment identifies the best approach, the therapist works one-on-one with the child in each session, reporting to the parent areas of growth and/or areas of concern. Therapists help the parent be in touch with their child’s needs and how they can foster growth in their child between sessions. Play Therapy takes place in a variety of ways by using techniques the therapist tailors to help the child improve self-expression. Tools most utilized in Play Therapy include art, crafts, music, dance, and narrative.

How does Play Therapy work? 

Play gives children a sense of power over themselves, their thoughts and feelings, and the world around them. It offers children an opportunity to gain understanding and mastery of life's difficulties with the support of a play therapist trained to help the child throughout this process. Play is a form of nonverbal communication that allows a child to communicate without the frustration of needing specific words to express themselves completely. The therapist may allow the child to guide their own expression through a nondirective approach using limited instruction and supervision while observing the child at play. A more directive approach can also be engaged using play to stimulate guided conversations allowing the child to have a more intensive therapeutic experience.