West Houston Counseling Center provides child counseling for clients two years old and up struggling with a wide variety of issues including behavioral problems, mood disorders, ODD, phobias, abuse, trauma, grief, divorce, school problems, foster/adopt, and developmental delays. We offer several types including child centered play therapy, directive (or cognitive behavioral) therapy, and Theraplay. Your child’s therapist will meet with you and help you determine which type or types of therapy best suit your child. Should you have additional questions, please feel free to address them with your child’s counselor.
Frequently Asked Questions about Play Therapy:
What is Play Therapy?
This form of child counseling is to children what talk therapy is to adults. However, instead of words, children use toys and other expressive materials to express their thoughts and feelings. This is often difficult for young children to do in a verbal way not because they don’t want to express their feelings, but rather they have yet to develop the emotional vocabulary and advanced cognitive skills to do so. In a play session, however, children use their play and toys to show the counselor what they are thinking and feeling. Likewise, the therapist can use the methods to communicate with children about what is happening in their lives and to help them explore alternative behaviors and attitudes.
Will I be involved in my child’s therapy?
Your child will typically go into the playroom alone with the counselor. This may vary if you are adding other types of therapy such as Filial therapy or Theraplay. You will, however, meet with your child’s counselor for regularly scheduled parent sessions to discuss your child’s progress and help you better understand what is happening with your child in therapy. This may also be a good time to learn and practice new skills to use at home with your child.
What should my child wear?
Because children frequently play in the sand or paint, they should wear comfortable play clothes, rather than “good” clothes, to play therapy. It is a fun process, and sometimes it is messy.
What should I do after a session?
After a session, although it is appropriate for parents to let children know that they are interested in the children’s experiences in the play session, they should not question children about their experiences. If children draw or paint pictures or produce other artwork, parents should avoid questioning them about the art or praising or criticizing them.
Will you tell me what happens in session?
To help build trust in the relationship with children, the therapist keeps what they say and do in the sessions private. Instead of talking about specifics, the counselor consults with parents about different ways to understand children and strategies to help them get along better with others and feel better about themselves. This will take place during regularly scheduled parent sessions.
What should I tell my child about therapy?
Before the first session, parents will need to explain the details of how often children will be coming to therapy, where it is, and basically what happens. Children seem to feel more comfortable and at ease knowing the main thing they will be doing is playing. It can also be helpful for adults to give children a simple explanation of their perception of the presenting problem and to suggest that children generally feel better about themselves and other people after going to play therapy for a while. This explanation helps get rid of children’s fears about coming to counseling. Additionally, you may want to let your child watch this great video tailed to children to help them understand therapy: Introduction to Play Therapy for Children by Registered Play Therapist Dee Ray embedded below.
To learn more about how therapy can help your child or what happens in therapy, watch this video: Introduction to Play therapy for Parents by Dee Ray also embedded below.
To learn more about Theraplay, visit: http://www.theraplay.org/index.php/what-is-theraplay-parents
To learn more about our child counselors, visit our counselors page. Stephanie Legendre and Kelly Peyton are Registered Play Therapists (RPT).
To learn more about how to become a Registered Play therapist or the RPT credential, visit the Association for Play Therapy website or watch the video below.