How Does It work?
Play therapy with Wonda is not in a vacuum, however. It is offered in combination with parenting support to assist the entire family through problem solving.
The most important thing about play therapy is the relationship. It provides a safe place for kids to process what's bothering them through activities instead of struggling with the vocabulary of grown-ups. Wonda, our play therapist will give your child undivided attention, unconditional positive regard, convey empathy, and accept your child where he or she is.
When children can communicate or play out how they feel to someone who has been trained to understand what they trying to say through their play, they simply feel better because the feelings have been validated. You have probably experienced the same thing when talking to a supportive and understanding friend.
In addition, play therapists like Wonda have been extensively
prepared to respond to children in ways that facilitate emotional
growth. Patients are free to engage with whatever strikes their fancy
such as dolls, art, puppets, sand tray, clay, dress-up, punching bags,
etc., to express how they think and feel.
Play therapy has been extensively researched and supported
with results that provide strong support for it's clinical and
Children involved in play therapy will ideally:
- Understand their feelings better
- Express their feelings more appropriately
- Become more skilled in solving problems and asking for help
- Reduce problematic behaviors
- Become better socialized
- Feel more secure
- Have a healthier self-esteem
- Develop a more positive self-concept
- Assume greater self-responsibility
- Become more self-directing
- Become more self-reliant
- Experience stronger feelings of control
- Become more skilled at coping
- Develop an internal source of evaluation
- Become more trusting of themselves
Before the First Session
Parents are asked to advise young children that they are simply going to play with Wonda in her special playroom for a bit, where there's all sorts of fun stuff to play with. Usually, that's all the child will care about knowing. If the child needs further explanation, tell him or her, “Well, when things at home or school get hard, sometimes it helps to spend some time with a very special person.” Here are some other things to consider that will help your child benefit the most from play therapy.
- Have your child wear play clothes that can get dirty. It is common for children to be messy in the playroom with the paints, markers, and clay.
- Before the session, please do not direct the child to talk about problems. Doing so will only make them nervous and fearful. This will undermine the benefits of play therapy - who's success depends on the child actually NOT being forced to talk about anything until they want to. But first, a safe relationship needs to be established. Only then will the child feel secure enough to express their concerns through play, art and/or communication.
- After the session, please do not grill them too much with questions such as, “What did you do?”, "What did you say?", “Do you think it's helping?” or "Was it fun?" Remember this is Play THERAPY, not Play TIME, as such, sometimes the sessions are not that fun because the child is expressing difficult emotions.
- Respect and validate their feelings. If the child decides to share the experience, take it as a vote of trust in you on their part. It is a personal time for the child much like talk therapy counseling sessions are for adults. Besides, Wonda will keep you informed about your child’s progress as well.