Play is a vital part of childhood. Through play, children express their thoughts and feelings, solve problems, work through fears and emotional hurts, and practice skills for adult life.
When a child has had something bad, sad, or scary happen to them, play is an important part of the healing process. In the presence of a trained play therapist, the child, through play, is able to process what has happened to them, express what they are feeling, and begin to gain mastery over the things that scare them.
Play is the language of the child, and the play therapist speaks that language too, by engaging with the child in special ways as they play.
For a great description of what happens in play therapy, take a look at Rise van Fleet’s article, What Is Play Therapy?. You can also read a more thorough article from the Association for Play Therapy that includes the results of research on play therapy , or you can watch APT's 3-minute video on play therapy.
In some situations, the child’s own parent or caregiver is the best person to provide a supportive and caring atmosphere for the child to play out their worries and traumas. Jeanne leads 10-week Filial Therapy groups, called Child-Parent Relationship Training (CPRT), to teach caregivers the skills they need to be that therapeutic presence for their child. There is more information about Jeanne’s CPRT groups on the home page, and also on the CPRT page.
COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING
Some children are born easy – they usually do what you ask them to do with no complaining, and they are happy and content most of the time. Other children are not so easy. Unexpected demands or requests, a change in plans, or simply just being asked to do something that the child does not want to do, can result in explosions of anger and tears, or in slamming doors and refusing to talk.
Collaborative Problem Solving is based on the work of Dr. Ross Greene (author of The Explosive Child, and Lost at School) . It begins with the assumption that challenging behaviour is a sign that the child is lacking certain important cognitive skills, such as the ability to consider a range of solutions to a problem, the ability to see things from another person’s perspective, or the ability to adapt to unexpected changes.
Instead of using rewards and punishment to coax the child to behave, Collaborative Problem Solving is a way of working with the child to help them develop those important cognitive skills, while in the process, reducing the number of explosions or tantrums that the child experiences.