Play Is A Child's Language
Children play because it is fun. However, when they’re engaged in play, without even realizing it, children develop life skills. Playing helps develop language, social skills, physical coordination, emotional maturity, and exploration skills.
At the earliest stages, play encourages self-reliance and helps children problem solve and learn about the physical world and how it works. Preschoolers learn by pretending with materials and practicing language. Play also helps build relationships between a child and their parents, caregivers, or teachers. Observing a child’s behavior and participating in their activities helps adults gain insight about a child’s perceptions, feelings, and how they understand the world.
As children grow, play helps them develop the emotional maturity, self-esteem and self-confidence they need to build relationships, understand concepts, and make sense of the world around them.
Play therapy focuses on promoting a child’s development throughout the stages by providing play activities in a supportive, safe and nurturing environment.
What is EMDR for Children
EMDR is used when children have experienced very yucky things grown-ups call trauma.
When we have yucky things happen to us, we have many mixed-up feelings and many mixed-up thoughts. We do not feel good in our minds, bodies, and hearts. It is like carrying bags of mixed-up stuff. When we are so busy carrying all these bags, we do not have space in our hearts, minds, and bodies for the good feelings and thoughts.
EMDR can help by making those bags smaller or even get rid of them so children will have space for the good feelings and the good thoughts. Grown ups have a rather complicated name for EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and reprocessing but there's a made-up, cool name for kids: Eyes Moving to Digest and Recover!!
I am what's called an EMDR helper. When children receive EMDR, one of the things they do is move their eyes from one side to another while the helper talks to them.
Most children don’t know this, but they actually do this every night….yes we all move our eyes every night while we are asleep and are having dreams. Grown ups call this Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep cycle. Sometimes instead of eye movements,
EMDR helpers can also tap your hands or knees back and forth or use sounds that move from one ear to the other.
We do this because when yucky things happen, the brain has a hard time putting all the pieces together and as a result, things that people say or do, or things that kids see, hear, smell or touch can bring up the yucky memories, the mixed-up thoughts, feelings and body feelings connected to those yucky things.
EMDR helps the brain put all the pieces together so the yucky stuff can leave us and the good stuff or the things we learned from it can stay so we get stronger. Then, the brain can chew up and digest all the mixed-up feelings and thoughts as well as the yucky feelings we may have in the body.©
(This is a modified excerpt from the book: EMDR Therapy and Adjunct Approaches with Children: Complex Trauma, Attachment and Dissociation; 2012 by Ana Gomez.
"Authentic testimonial of a 7 year old client."
"I want to get better. But how can I do it? Call
Karen Urbano she's the purfict theripist in the
world call now!"
All parents worry about "doing it right" because as much as we think they should, children don't come with an instruction manual.
The therapy process I use includes parent sessions monthly with a
focus on learning and practicing effective parenting.
In a non-judgmental, safe atmosphere, you will learn about parenting styles, how to effectively give choices and what's appropriate for your child's developmental level. During treatment we will set achievable goals for parents as well as children to enhance optimal development.
Why Use Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a way of meeting children at their appropriate developmental level and provides ways of helping a child communicate and be understood by a Licensed Therpaist. Children use play as their “language". Licensed Mental Health Professionals therapeutically use play to help their clients, most often children ages three and older, better express themselves and resolve their problems.
Play Therapy works when a safe relationship is created between the therapist and client. Once that safety is established, it allows the child to play freely and naturally demontrate/express both what pleases and/or bothers them. It is advisable for a parent, family member, or caretaker to be actively involved in the treatment process for optimal results.
Play Therapy can be a primary intervention or a supportive therapy for:
• Behavioral problems, such as anger management, grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, crisis and trauma.
• Behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders.
Research suggests Play Therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem.
What is Sandtray Therapy?
Sandtray therapy is a type of expressive therapy used by children, adolescents, teens, individual adults, couples, families and/or groups. It is a dynamic model of therapy that is used in the presence of a trained sandtray therapist.*
When you work with a trained therapist, a sandtray office will be equipped with an extensive collection of miniature objects, sand contained in trays with a blue bottom and water.
Clients are encouraged to play, dig, build up and create worlds or landscapes of mountains, valleys and rivers with either dry or wet sand exactly as they wish. Opportunities are provided to create dramatic scenes with personally selected objects and figures that tell a story. Clients can speak or remain silent while building.
There is no right or wrong way to play. The gift in using sand is that it requires no skill or artistic talent to build or play in the sand, yet offers an endless capacity for self-creation without being intimidating to the creator.
None of the objects or landscapes express any specific meaning to the witness, yet over a period of time the process of shaping and molding this impressionable, malleable, yielding substance into complex multi-dimensional scenes will shed light and insight to the builder as well as the witness allowing the healing work to happen.
*Sandtray Therapy is based on Sandtray-WorldPlay™
Therapy as developed and taught by
Giesela S. De Domenico, PhD.