As a parent you want your child to express themselves, their likes, dislikes, wants, and needs. Sometimes children experience adverse personal issues where they may act out or engage in inappropriate behaviour. You may be eager to help your child but may feel it is difficult to offer the help when they are unable or unwilling to discuss the problem. Play therapy is thought to be one of the most beneficial ways of helping children who experience emotional or behavioural challenges.

We met with Kirsty to better understand play therapy and the benefits for children.

What is play therapy?

Kirsty says, “Play is a child’s language, and play therapy supports a child to develop a stronger sense of self, self-expression, and enhance skills such as problem-solving, self-regulation, and gain new coping mechanisms.”

Who is play therapy for?

Kirsty says, “Play Therapy is primarily used for children. Play Therapy works well for children ages 3-12 years, who are struggling with behaviour concerns and emotional difficulties that impact on the child’s ability to learn, grow, and maintain a sense of well-being. It should be introduced as soon as possible.”

What are the benefits of play therapy?

Kirsty says that children get to work at their own pace, “Authenticity and unconditional positive regard, the therapist allows the child to go at their own pace and believes the child knows exactly where they need to go.

The child leads the way, and the therapist supports the child through the process.

Growth occurs within this relationship. Using toys and symbols, the child expresses their worries, concerns, and feelings that he or she may not have the words or cognitive ability to express.

The best thing about play therapy is the fact that I can be myself and the child can be who they are. To be able to be my authentic self and support a child to grow is a wonderful gift.”

A safe space to develop physical and social skills

Play therapy techniques create a safe space for children to express themselves. Kirsty uses many techniques such as storytelling, role-playing, dolls, and puppets to encourage self-expression.

Kirsty says “The ultimate technique is to follow the child’s lead as they express in their own way. It’s about holding that space and being present.”

Sessions typically go for 45 to 60 minutes and the frequency of sessions depends on the child. “We work with parents during intake and follow up sessions to determine the best path for the child. Weekly sessions are ideal, and some children may benefit from two sessions per week. It all depends on each child’s unique circumstances.”

Kirsty has been a Behaviour Support Practitioner with Community Solutions since April 2021, but her background in Applied Social Science (Counselling) and Advanced Clinical Training in Child Centred Play Therapy, lead her to become Community Solutions’ first Play Therapist in Cairns.

For more information about Community Solutions Behavioural Support Services, contact us today on 1300 770 145.

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