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  • Courtney Bowles, LCMHCA

Play Therapy: A Peek Behind the Curtain

You may remember my last blog post where I mentioned that play is an avenue for children to make sense of their world. While you may leave an exhausting day of work and vent to a friend or partner, children take to their toys to work through the frustrations of the day. Children use play. In working with children in the therapy space, play is just as important in helping your child make sense of the world.

You may be wondering what exactly play therapy is and how may it help, and I am here to explain.

Play therapy is a developmentally appropriate modality for children to receive mental health care. Children aren’t little adults, and you may have even found in your parenting that “talking through” issues alone has minimal results. That doesn’t mean we stop talking to our kids, but we do so in a way that is appropriate for their developmental level, meeting them where they are.

The toys in a play therapy office are picked out with intention. There are real-life toys such as a dollhouse, doll, and kitchen supplies; there are acting-out toys like aggressive animals and dart guns, and there are toys for creative and emotional expression like crayons, play doh, paper, and paint.

As their therapist, when I am observing your child play, I ask myself things such as “Are they using positive or negative self-talk? How long do they stay on one activity before moving to the next? What is the effort level that they’re putting into the play? Does the play seem disorganized, or overly orderly? What is their response to frustration?"

In the play therapy room, I use play to build self-esteem, facilitate decision making, build responsibility in the child, promote social/emotional intelligence, and more.

But beyond that, play is healing in and of itself!

Wondering how to take this home and beyond the therapy space? I currently facilitate a group which provides an opportunity for parents to learn how to play with their children.

I am currently wrapping up my training in Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT), which is an evidence-based group counseling model where I walk parents through developing special playtimes for themselves and their child to share. In these playtimes, parents embody a role as listener, observer, and playmate which irrevocably changes the relationship dynamics between parent and child, leaving both parties feeling closer than ever before.

If this sounds interesting to you, keep an eye on my Instagram, @counseling.with.courtney, for when I announce my next CPRT group!

Honeybee is excited to announce that Courtney will be joining Honeybee following the completion of her internship. She will be offering child-centered play therapy as well as individual therapy sessions with adult clients. She also plans to continue offering groups grounded in the Child-Parent Relationship Therapy model independent of her work with Honeybee (which we are here for and support wholeheartedly!!!!). To get yourself or your child on Courtney's schedule in the spring, please reach out to Margie at Courtney will be accepting BCBS, out of network insurance reimbursement, private pay, and a select number of sliding scale spots.

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