* Have your child wear comfortable clothing that can get marker, play-dough, or other messy materials on it.
* Ask your child if he or she needs to go to the bathroom before coming into the playroom.
* Talk to your child about coming to play therapy before the first appointment. I recommend saying, “You are going to be meeting with Anthony in a special playroom, where there will be lots of toys for you to play with.” If your child asks why he or she is going to the playroom, you can say, “You seem to be having a tough time at home, school, etc., and sometimes it helps to have a special playtime just for you!”
* Recognize that play therapy is a process. While results are important—and anticipated—your child’s growth can’t be hurried. Some children experience change quickly, while others may take longer.
* Leave the waiting room while your child is in session. If your child needs to leave early (i.e. feeling sick, an emergency), it is important that you are readily available.
* Ask your child questions about their session when they leave the office (i.e. “what did you do with Anthony?”, “did you have fun?”, “did you tell Anthony xyz?”) Your child’s play session is a special and private time. Questioning your child about their session may negatively impact their experience of play therapy, as they may feel like they cannot express some feelings or have to express others knowing that they might be questioned by their caregiver after the session.
NOTE: Because caregivers are such an important part of treatment, I schedule individual Parent Consultations Sessions without the child present, so that we may work together to discuss treatment, explore concerns in-between sessions, and identify ways to work together on goals for treatment.
* Be surprise or discouraged if your child tells you that they “just played” during the session. During a play session, your child is processing thoughts and feelings through therapist facilitated play involving toys, games, and expressive arts.
Play therapy has been shown to:
* Increase self-esteem | Improve a child’s ability to self-regulate | Foster development of healthy social skills | Promote cognitive development and insight | Decrease negative behavior | Enhance healthy connection with others | Strengthen problem solving abilities.