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What is Child Centered Play Therapy?

  • This intervention is evidence based, attuned to the developmental stages, and is non-directive

  • Similar to how adults seek support from talk-based therapists during challenging periods for healing and personal growth, children are provided the same with their natural medium which is 'play'

  • Working to help children find their 'authentic self'. Instead of looking at reactions as 'right' or 'wrong', we work with the child to help by increasing their understanding about why they are reacting in a certain way. Self-awareness can help them manage where they are at present and be better prepared to face future challenges.

  • In play therapy, trained therapists use the act of play as a medium to communicate with children. This type of therapy is predicated on the belief that play is the natural medium of communication for children. Through the use of toys, dolls, games, and creative arts, children are able to express their emotions, share their experiences, and process their thoughts and feelings in a way that they might not be able to do verbally.

  • The child is then given the freedom to play as they wish. This free play allows the child to take the lead, an aspect that’s crucial in building their confidence and making them feel in control, particularly important for children who have experienced situations where they felt helpless or scared.

  • The therapist creates a safe, accepting, and understanding environment. They observe the child’s play behaviours, looking for themes or patterns that could reflect the child’s emotional state or give insight into their experiences. They may participate in the child’s play, following the child’s lead and refraining from directing the play. The therapist might make reflections to acknowledge and validate the child’s feelings, helping them feel understood and accepted.

  • At times, the therapist may introduce specific play activities or interventions tailored to the child’s needs, such as role-playing or therapeutic storytelling. These activities can help the child explore different scenarios, express their emotions, or gain mastery over difficult experiences.

  • Throughout the therapy process, the therapist maintains a delicate balance of being an understanding listener, a supportive companion, and a guiding figure. They may suggest a referral for other professional intervention as part of the support. This might include support for you. It is also crucial that your child knows you are supporting the process.

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