Therapists at Metis Counseling attended a training session this fall at the Kansas City Play Therapy Institute, about utilizing play therapy throughout the lifespan, which was presented by Denise Filley. Often people have either not heard of play therapy or don’t really know how it works. Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings fails (Gil, 1991).
Whether you are a child or an adult, it’s often hard to know how to change or work through your problems and therefore you end falling back on unwanted patterns or behaviors. Change based learning (think changing habits) actually works best through practicing methods, versus just talking through problems. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which is one of the most common modalities of treatment reinforces the need to practice in order to change thought processes, habits or behaviors.
The brain actually grows and develops by using multiple senses. Traumatic events are stored through these senses, not through language, so its important to utilize treatment that is not just cognitively based. In fact, research shows that doing something physical during the treatment of anger before moving towards processing cognitive effects, tends to be more effective.
Utilizing play therapy techniques that target specific presenting problems is very effective with children, but also with adolescents and even adults. These activities are a great way to open the door for clients who may otherwise be resistant to talking/sharing, and they find that activities take some of the pressure off themselves and can even be enjoyable. Parents will often say that their child/teen may not want to talk or come to therapy, but that never seems to be an issue when utilizing play therapy activities that are appropriate for their age and presenting problems. Therapists generally learn modalities used in treatment by practicing themselves during training.
If you or someone you know might benefit from play therapy, our therapists would be happy to answer any questions you have at 816-399-4204, or you may also schedule an appointment through our website at metiscounseling.com/scheduling.