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Play Therapy

by Danmertig on Wed, 11/14/2012 - 9:22pm

Have you ever watched children sitting in the “man chair” outside a fitting room? They are all over that chair. The chair might become a bus, a race car, or even an airplane. They love playing hide and seek under the cloths racks and twirling, hopping, and skipping while walking through the mall. - Play is what they do.

At the dinner table, my son tells me he wants more. When I ask him what he wants more of, he points at that yummy orange stuff but doesn’t know to call it sweet potatoes. So I give him more sweet potatoes and he starts crying. Of course my frustration level starts to rise. “You said you wanted more sweet potatoes.” But really he was pointing to my favorite food group (and apparently his), the butter on the sweet potatoes. - Children’s verbal skills develop after their cognitive skills.

Unusual behavior is a child’s way of expressing that something is going on but often they cannot or will not communicate it to adults. That is what play therapy is all about: helping children communicate what they are thinking and feeling through their natural language of play.

A seven year old child was brought to me because he was misbehaving in class and was removed every day. At first I tried to get him to talk but that didn’t work. He looked over my shoulder at the doll house in my office. When I asked him if he would like to play with the doll house his eyes lit up. Throughout the session I noticed several themes and at the end I asked the mother about these themes. The mother broke down crying because this boy’s twin sister passed away when he was three. After a few play therapy sessions, the boy no longer was removed from his class. He needed to talk to someone about his sister in his own language of play.

A Registered Play Therapist has specialized training and supervision to help foster this communication and has to go through regular professional development to maintain this credential. A list of Registered Play Therapists can be found on the Association for Play Therapy website at www.a4pt.org.

 

Dan Mertig is a Georgia Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Play Therapist, National Certified Counselor, and a  certified School Counselor. For more information about play therapy, Dan can be reached at 912-373-6348.

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Kid language

That's interesting to think of play as a language for kids. What a great way to help understand what's going on with kids when they are troubled and can't communicate it otherwise.