First at Four: Could play therapy help your child communicate?

Updated: Feb. 6, 2017 at 5:53 PM EST
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It's National Play Therapy Week.

The therapy helps children communicate, when they're too young to use their words to do so.

We talked to Becky O'Dell, a therapist at Clarity Counseling Center, who uses play therapy to help children and families.

Question: What is play therapy?

O'Dell's Answer: In play therapy, the toys are the words and the play is the language. While adults generally communicate through language, kids, until the age of about 12, use play instead of words to communicate. A play therapist's job is to facilitate the communication and expression of emotions and  processing through those emotions. Ex. A therapist might teach breathing exercises to a kid who struggles with anger.

Q: What are three things parents may not know about Play Therapy?

O'Dell's Answer:

1) Parents Are Included:

The parents' role is very important and sessions usually follow a pattern of one session with parents followed by 2 Play Therapy sessions. Parents are given tools and step by step plans. Like book lists and follow up ideas to implement at home"

2) There Are Signs that Play Therapy Can Be Beneficial:

If a child is having behavioral difficulties, like separation anxiety or ADHD, that are disruptive in school or at home, it might be time to consider play therapy. Also, if a family is experiencing a divorce, death, serious illness or other stressful situations, a play therapist can help the child to process through some of their big feelings.

3) It's not just for young children:

Generally, play therapy is appropriate for kids age 3 through 12. Until children transition to using language as communication.

O'Dell specializes in helping children and families. She uses Play Therapy as well as many other techniques in her practice. She also works with children from birth through age 7 and their parents to become more emotionally connected.

If you have more questions about Play Therapy, contact Becky O'Dell at Clarity Counseling Center

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