Children of all ages and stages of development can benefit from speaking with a counselor. Sometimes the problem may seem “simple” to an adult, but it may be deeply troubling to your child – social issues at school or difficulty getting along with friends, for example. Other times kids need help managing their emotions or expressing their thoughts and feelings, or have even experienced a traumatic experience that they need help processing through and healing from. Often, we as parents need someone to help guide us through how to best interact with our child during these tumultuous times – after all, kids don’t come with instruction manuals.
Here at Cornerstone, we are blessed with skilled counselors who have a wide range of education and experience and offer a variety of counseling techniques and specialties that meet kids at the age and stage of life they’re in. Jessica Klika, a certified Synergetic Play Therapist, along with Casey Bain and Lauren McAllister all have experience and training in working with children as young as 2 years old.
Sometimes it is hard to find words to express trauma or pain, but play therapy allows the child to use toys to express themselves.
Check out these statements from the Association for Play Therapy (APT):
“Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings” (Gil, 1991). “In play therapy, toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language” (Landreth, 2002).
“Initially developed in the turn of the 20th century, today play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all applying the therapeutic benefits of play. Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them” (Axline, 1947; Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002).
Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.
The play therapist sets limits to keep themselves and the child safe, and to move toward healthy expression of emotion.
Who Is It For and How Does It Help?
Research suggests play therapy is an effective mental health approach regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.
- Behavioral problems, such as anger management, grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, and crisis and trauma.
- Behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders.
What Are the Benefits?
The APT has found that there are an overwhelming amount of benefits to engaging children in play therapy. Play therapy is a great method of Christian counseling for kids as it helps children to:
-Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
-Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
-Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
-Learn to experience and express emotion.
-Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
-Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
-Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.