Updated: Aug 26, 2021
The relationship you have with your child is so important and often severely underestimated. Because of our evolutionary development, we rely on our caregivers to house us, raise us, teach us, and feed us. It doesn’t stop there. Neil Gaiman famously said, “As we age, we become our parents; live long enough, and we see faces repeat in time”. Since there is no definitive handbook to parenting, we sometimes repeat how our parents raised us with our children because “hey, I turned out okay, I’m sure they will too”. It’s time to shelf that mindset and become active and productive parents.
You are instrumental to your child’s development in the same way you are to their healing. A Play therapist does not only work with your child; they work with you too. They teach you skills to help you respond to your child in a way that enhances your relationship with them. Think of it as a tool to help your child feel more accepted and be able to express their feelings in safe and appropriate ways with you.
What to expect in your play therapy session?
When you first start your session, your therapist will assess how your family interacts with each other and learn your dynamics. Then your therapist will demonstrate techniques used in play therapy when you play with your child. Next, your play therapist takes on a supervisory role, provides ongoing support, and addresses the challenges you face. This type of therapy does not focus on either the parent or the child. It instead focuses on the relationship between parent and child.
This is then transitioned into the home space.
How does it work?
As the sessions progress, you will find that your child is opening up more to you. They’re sharing how they feel, things that are happening at school. They know that you want the best for them and that you’ve dedicated time to building trust with each other. Now children progress in therapy at different rates, but you should know that every session is progress and a learning opportunity for both you and your child. Our memories influence how we relate to each other as adults, so you can imagine the impact it will have when you play with your child and display kindness, empathy, and emotional control in a non-judgmental environment.
This type of therapy gives you a way to relate to your child clearly and directly to lessen each other’s emotional pain and the common tendency to respond with defensiveness or counterattack. You’ll start to see your child is less likely to throw a tantrum and is more likely to express how they feel. They become more honest and compassionate when they understand their own needs, desires, preferences, and values without a great deal of defensiveness, guilt, and blame.
It creates a positive and open dialogue between you, the parent, and your child, making for a happy and healthy home.