Children do not have the insight or vocabulary to verbalize their feelings or experiences, so it is naturally difficult for them to talk about things that worry or upset them. Playing is an essential part of children’s expression, cognitive development and emotional well-being. Therefore, therapy for young children is held in a therapeutic play room where they can demonstrate their problems to the therapist through their play activity. Generally speaking, play therapy can be a useful therapeutic tool with children ages 2 to 12, although older or younger children may benefit.
At Marriage and Family Therapy Services, we offer both traditional Play Therapy, as well as a unique form of play therapy known as "Filial Therapy," or Parent-Led Play Therapy. This is a cutting-edge model which has been shown in research to be even more effective then Therapist-Led Play Therapy. It not only allows the child to express concerns and work out their problems, but allows for quality time spent between parent and child, and trains parents in positive parenting techniques.
Some of the Therapists at Marriage and Family Therapy Services provide training in Filial Therapy. This training involves parent(s) attending the first few sessions alone, to learn the basic techniques and practice them with the therapist. Then, the therapist and parent(s) will meet with the child in the therapeutic play room, so that the therapist and parent(s) can work with the child. Parent(s) get an opportunity to employ the skills they have learned, while the therapist supervises. After parent(s) are confident in the method, therapist will send the parent(s) home, to provide play sessions for the child on a weekly basis. At this point, parent(s) check back in with therapist only on a monthly (or less) basis, to report on progress. This is usually a brief and very effective form of therapy.
Our policy requires that any time we are working with minor children, we must first meet with one or all parents/caregivers. This allows us to take a detailed history of the challenges and begin developing a treatment plan of how we might help them. We also may ask for proof of custodial rights before we are willing to work with any child under 18 years old.