Laurie B. Freeman
LMFT | Marriage & Family Therapist

9201 N. Meridian St. Suite 120
Indianpolis, IN 46260
(317) 506-5988

More About Play Therapy

IIs it the best modality for your child?

For me, Play Therapy is the recommended type of therapy for young children, especially children 10 and under.  There are many types of Play Therapy and Play Therapy can also incorporate other theories of therapy that are presented in an indirect or playful way.  The idea behind Play Therapy is that young children do not necessarily have the ability to express their feelings using words.  They may not have the appropriate vocabularly or they may not even have the cognitve awareness to express what they feel directly. Play allows them to express their feelings using toys as the vocabulary and often using metaphor as a way to indirectly express how they are feeling. 
Play can either be directive or non-directive.  Directive play focuses on a specific activity designed to address an issue. For example, Draw a picture of anger and what kinds of things make you angry.
The skills that children practice, express and learn in play are many. Play may be a confidence building exercise where children express mastery and gain confidence. The play room may be one of the few places where a child can be in control and make his or her own decisions.  They may be able to express their own feelings and frustrations in the voice of a toy figure or express aggression safely in the confines of a sand box or through a sword fight.  They practice self regulation through play by working through furstrations or calming themselves down. They tolerate frustration when things don't go their way.  They create safe forts when they feel unsafe or insecure and nuture and feed baby dolls when they need nurture.

My process when a child comes for play therapy is as follows:
  1. I have an initial meeting with the parents to learn the child's    
      history, likes and dislikes.
  2. I will meet with the child alone to play for 3 to 5 sessions.
     Some of these sessions will have a specific activity for them to
     complete while most will be reserved for them to explore the
     room and choose the play that most interests them
 3. I  will then meet with the parents to share observations and
    give recommendations on future treatment.
Non-directive therapy allows the child to choose the play and can offer more insight into subconscious themes the child might need to expres. These develop over time and often the play is repetitive from session to sesssion.
Directive play is most helpful when we know the child needs to work on a specific issue but I will often allow several non-directive sessions to facilitate the emergence of themes parents might not have previously identified.