Bonnie Mason & Associates Counselling Inc.

Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Therapy, Consultation, Support and Guidance

Frequently Asked Questions:

Child Therapy, Family Therapy, Play Therapy

What is play therapy?

How will play therapy help?

How long are the appointments?

How long will therapy take?

What should I tell my child about play therapy?

Will I be involved in my child’s therapy?

Where can I get more information on play therapy?

 

What is play therapy?

Childhood is a unique and special developmental stage where children learn about themselves, the world, and relationships through the world of play. Play therapy is a type of mental health or developmental intervention which is designed with the goal of assisting children to grow up as happy and well-adjusted adults. Play therapy involves learning to communicate what the child may have no words for yet, and allowing them a safe playroom to address their worries and hurts. As children mature their use of language becomes more sophisticated, but in childhood, they usually express themselves in their play. In play therapy, children are provided with specially chosen toys to enable them to say with toys what they have difficulty saying with words. The progress at times may involve the entire family.

Play therapy is a researched method of counselling children, play therapy has been found to be effective for children experiencing a wide range of social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Play therapy is also a wonderful way for children to heal from stressful and traumatic events.

“Play therapy can be described as an opportunity that is offered to the child to experience growth under the most favorable conditions. Since play is the natural medium for self-expression the child is given the opportunity to play out his/her accumulated feelings of frustration, insecurity, aggression, fear, bewilderment or confusion. By playing out these feelings we can bring them to the surface, get them in the open, face them, and learn to control or abandon them.” (V. Axline 1947)

How will play therapy help?

Children learn self control by making appropriate choices and decisions for themselves, which leads to healthy perceptions of themselves.

Children develop skills necessary for co-operation within relationships and develop empathy for others.

Children learn better ways of interacting with the adults and peers in their lives.

Children learn to correct their misunderstandings and develop better ways of dealing with difficult situations.

As children learn to be more expressive in play therapy, the adults in their life will be better able to understand and support them. Often parents misunderstand what their child is trying to communicate and at times these behaviors can be challenging.

How long are the appointments?

The initial intake session with parents is 60 minutes and the fee for therapy is expected. All follow up sessions with your child are also 60 minutes long. Parents are welcome to relax in the waiting room and have a cup of tea while their child is in with his/her therapist.

How long will therapy take?

The length of counselling or therapy cannot be determined on the phone or during the initial assessment session. Every child is unique in how they perceive themselves, the world, the problem and their internal strengths. Once the child begins therapy the process involves ongoing assessment towards the therapy goals. Parents will be informed of progress and consulted as to how many more sessions may be required. Some clients achieve their therapy goals in only a few sessions when addressing a specific parenting concern. However when children are referred for traumas such as sexual, physical or emotional abuse, it is likely therapy will be for a longer term. At times a child will achieve the level of healing necessary for their development stage, but may need to return at a later stage as the trauma will have different meaning. All clients of the practice are informed that they will always receive priority in the future when the request to return for further counselling.

What should I tell my child about play therapy?

During your initial parent session you will receive a handout on the basic principles of play therapy along with a handout to help you speak with your child before attending counselling. You are also welcome to request your counsellor e-mail or mail the forms prior to your first session. You may tell your child that he/she will be coming to be with Bonnie in a special playroom where there are lots of toys. If you child wants to know why he/she is going to the playroom, you may say something like, “when things are hard for you at home (or school) etc.), it helps to have a special place to play”.

Will I be involved in my child's therapy?

The practice offers a combination of approaches given the highly competent professional team of child and family therapists. As family therapists we respect and appreciate the valuable role of being a parent and the need for parental involvement in your child's therapy. During play therapy, the child is seen alone with the trained therapist, which allows the child a special place to express themselves. During stressful events such as death of a loved one, separation or divorce it is common for a child to not express themselves to parents. In the case of a death of a parent the child may not want to upset the surviving parent during this difficult time. Children experiencing the adjustment of a separation or divorce often worry about pleasing both parents and find relief in the safety of the play room without their parents.

As trained Family Therapists we believe parents should not be excluded from the process as this tends to only increase parental anxiety. We realize parents have requested the process of child therapy due to worry and concern for their child. The first step in beginning the commitment to play therapy or family therapy involves the parents attending without their child. After 2 to 3 play therapy sessions we will provide another parent appointment were you will be updated on progress, and parenting suggestions. It is our goal to support and respect your relationship by providing you with a better understanding of your child. We believe that it is you that needs to be the source of continued encouragement and support long after therapy is over.

We will provide your child and yourselves with an understanding of confidentiality and the boundaries around counselling. Children need to understand that their sessions are respected and information shared with their parents will not include details. Parents will be kept updated on our observations, conclusions and recommendations on how to help their child. It is our belief that families are a system and much of our early learning occurs within the context of our family of origin. Whenever possible we encourage all family members to be involved in the therapy as the greatest healing and growth can occur in family therapy. When family therapy is suggested or requested all members are treated with great respect for their courage to want to change the unhealthy patterns in their family. Often family therapy when done by a trained "Family Therapist" can have amazing results and benefit the entire family.

Where can I get more information on play therapy?

Association for Play Therapy
BC Play Therapy Association
Canadian Association for Child & Play Therapy

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