Play therapy is to children what psychotherapy/counselling is to adults, toys are their words and play is their first language.
It allows children to communicate through play about their feelings and experiences.
At KIN & KiDS, play therapy is provided by a mental health professional who has received at least 60 over hours of training in play therapy. Director Charis Wong is the first Malaysian to receive the Registered Play Therapist (RPT) credentials in USA.
How does Play Therapy work?
Children are referred for play therapy to work on the presenting issues and to receive psychological support during a difficult time of their life. Not only will the children learn of coping strategies to adapt with difficult emotions, but also learn to resolve concerns in healthier ways and to put these behaviors into practise.
Through play therapy, play therapists are able to provide therapeutic support, hold space in a confidential and safe setting, assess and understand children’s play gain insight into the child’s emotional wellbeing, provide feedback and support to parents and caregivers, and do family intervention.
How is it different from my child’s usual play?
- Therapists are trained to identify play themes and behaviors, along with the meaning behind them.
- The main goal of play therapy is to facilitate growth by helping children refine coping resources and restructure the way to approach an issue.
- Children are free to let their imagination run wild in the playroom by exploring various mediums and methods of play to engage in self-expression.
- Children’s unconscious thoughts often surface during the process of play, be it fears, worries, or desires. The therapists are trained to help them process these thoughts and feelings.
The family in Play Therapy
At KIN & KiDS, we believe that families and primary caregivers play an essential role in children’s emotional healing processes. Sometimes children develop problems as a way of signaling that there is something wrong in the family. Other times the entire family becomes distressed because the child’s problems are so disruptive. The therapist will decide, based on their clinical judgment, on how and when to involve some or all family members in the play therapy through family play therapy.
This is in line with our practice identity as a “marriage, family and child therapy center” that utilizes a clinical, research-based approach in our therapeutic work that values systemic interventions as opposed to more individual-focused models. The therapist will communicate regularly with the child’s parents or primary caretakers on treatment plans for the presenting issues, as well as to monitor the child’s progress.
Parental/ caregiver involvement in play therapy is not entirely passive, as they play an important part in their children’s progress. Parents could help in:
- Advocating for their children’s mental health
- Introducing ideas and reporting what happened between sessions to other family members and to the school
- Practicing certain rules and set boundaries at home
We believe that by working hand-in-hand with the family, we are able to provide the best possible care for the children not only in session, but also in their daily living environment.