What is play therapy?
Play therapy differs from everyday play in that it is conducted in a controlled environment (play therapy room) with a therapist who guides children in their play to work toward therapeutic goals. Adults typically address goals through some form of “talk therapy.” Children are unable to talk about their feelings and experiences in the same way; in non-directive play therapy, children “play” their experiences and feelings. Adults often talk through a traumatic even several times before reaching a new sense of mastery over that experience. In play therapy, children may re-enact a traumatic event symbolically through play several times before they eventually become the “hero” of their own story.
What happens in a play therapy session?
Play therapy involves different modalities, but primarily involves non-directive play which may occur individually or with other members of the family present. There may also be skill building or more directive strategies used depending on your child’s treatment goals. Typically a play therapy session is child-centered and child-directed, meaning that the child will choose what to play. The therapist includes a wide variety of toys to play with, including games, puppets, sand play toys, and others which can be used in symbolic play. Th therapist plays with the child, if invited, and other times, the therapist will observe. The relationship with the therapist is key in providing a sense of safety which allows the child to pursue the play that they need in order to work toward healing.
How long will my child need play therapy?
Because children and families are all different and experience healing at different rates, it is difficult to determine a typical length of treatment. However, it is my experience that treatment can last anywhere from a few months to more than a year. We will continue to assess progress toward goals and ongoing relevance of these goals, and together determine how long therapy needs to last. Typically when we decide that treatment is nearly complete we will conduct 2-3 sessions to provide the child with a positive end to therapy. Because the therapeutic relationship is such an important part of treatment, it is imperative that the child is given an opportunity to prepare for and experience a health end to treatment.
Why do you have a dog in session? What is Animal-Assisted Therapy?
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is an important part of my work with children and families. My animal partner Gadget is a 7-year-old Golden-Doodle who has been working with me since she was about a year old. Please see my Animal Partner page for more information on Gadget and my partner-in-training, Maisy. There is increasing research indicating that petting animals–or even just having them in the room–can lower blood pressure, slow your heart rate, release Seratonin (the same chemical anti-depressant medications aim to increase), and in general has a soothing effect on people. I have also learned from experience that the relationship children and families have with Gadget can by itself have a healing impact.
Is therapy right for me?
Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one’s life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of a therapist as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.
What can I expect in a therapy session?
Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. During therapy sessions it is standard to talk about the primary issues and concerns in your life. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts 50 minutes. Sometimes individuals who are going through a particularly difficult challenge may request more time per session or more than one session per week. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. Between sessions it is important process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions.
What benefits can I expect from working with a therapist?
Therapy can provide insight and new perspectives into life’s challenges and can help create solutions to difficult problems. Many people find that working with a therapist can enhance personal development, improve relationships and family dynamics, and can ease the challenges of daily life. Sometimes, just having someone there to listen is helpful. Overall, people in therapy tend to have lower levels of anxiety and stress, decreased conflict, and improved quality of life.
Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Developing new skills for handling stress and anxiety
- Modifying unhealthy behavior and long-standing patterns
- Attaining insight into personal patterns and behavior
- Increasing confidence, peace, vitality, and well-being
- Improving ways to manage anger, depression and moods
- Discovering new ways to solve problems
- Navigating life’s obstacles more effectively
- Improving listening and communication skills
- Enhancing the overall quality of life
Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:
- Do I have mental health benefits?
- What is my deductible and has it been met?
- How many sessions per calendar year does my plan cover?
- How much does my plan cover for an out-of-network provider?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a psychotherapist.I will treat with great care all the information you share with me. It is your legal right that our sessions and my records about you be kept private. That is why I ask you to sign a “release of information form” before I can talk about you or send records to anyone else. Information is not disclosed without written permission. However, there are number of exceptions to this rule. Please see my Client information brochure on the forms page for more information about confidentiality. Exceptions to confidentiality include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s. The therapist must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in insuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, further measures may be taken without their permission in order to ensure their safety.
What about confidentiality with children?
As I will often be working individually with your child in the therapy room, I request that we meet without your child at minimum every 4-6 weeks, or as needed, so that we have time to discuss how your child is progressing in therapy, and how they are doing at home. I am always happy to answer questions you have about the play therapy process, and about your child’s therapy.