I work with children of all ages, from birth onwards. For children under the age of three, I work primarily with the parent or parent and child together. I have a particular interest in attachment and emphasize the influence and development of the parent-child relationship in supporting the child's development and healing from traumatic events.
I am an on-going student of play therapy. I have taken training from Rocky Mountain Play Therapy Institute in Calgary and through the Canadian Association of Sandplay Therapists (CAST). I participate in a play therapy peer supervision group as part of ethical practice in working with children.
Play-based interventions I use include sand play, puppets, story telling, art and therapeutic games. Play is a child's first language. It is through play that a child can processes situations that are hard to understand and symbolically express emotions and challenging relationships. Sometimes children will engage in repetitive play in order to understand something better and gain mastery over it. Play helps with cognitive, emotional and physical development.
How do you know if your child needs play therapy?
It's recommended that a child comes for therapy if:
-there has been a significant or sudden change in behavior that you don't understand, can't explain or is of concern to you.
-there are on-going behaviors that aren't changing or resolving on their own. Some behaviors of concern may include: frequently teary, withdrawn, anxious, aggressive, explosive or prolonged periods of developmental regression.
-there has been a significant life change that appears to be negatively affecting the child. For example, a parent or family member being ill, a move, change of schools, parents' separation/ divorce.
-the child has experienced a trauma or major loss- such as, a motor vehicle collision, assault/ abuse, witness to domestic violence, the death of a close adult, the absence or upset of a parent due to physical/mental illness or addiction.
The benefit of play therapy for a child is that, guided by a trained adult in a safe place, the child is offered an opportunity to bring forward mistaken beliefs (I caused it; it's my fault) and process through tricky mixed emotions. A variety of carefully selected toys in the play area allow the child to choose and set up scenarios that process through thoughts and feelings. The art of play therapy is a mixture of being directive and non-directive and interpreting the symbolic play through tracking the themes that emerge.
Ongoing communication between me, as the therapist, and you, as the parents/ caregivers, is very important. Brief private conversations before or after therapy sessions or via email or phone helps: 1) to ensure I am updated about life events; and 2) to carry the work of therapy into the home and family. Parents are vital partners to the process.
Typically, the first session will be with the parents alone. This allows for a full history and a chance to identify current concerns. Parents will fill-out consent forms and have a chance to ask questions. This is also the time to talk about how therapy will be introduced to the child as a preparation for their first appointment.
I hope this helps provide some insight into therapy for children at Point on the Path. Feel free to call or email with questions or concerns.