Confessions are good for the soul. They help unburden you from guilt and help you think about solutions. Well, today I will let you in on a few confessions about play therapy from my own perspective.
Many play therapists use a model of play therapy called child centered play therapy. What that means is that the child leads and the therapist follows. It is a non-directive style of play that helps children express feelings in a way that helps them gain insight into their behavior.
And we take it really seriously! It’s really a privilege and a pleasure to have this as a real job!
So, one of the tenets of child centered play therapy is to have a “be with attitude.” That means that during play sessions, your presence conveys the concepts:
I am here, I hear you. I understand. I care.
That is the goal for every child in every session. Essentially, it’s being fully present and fully engaged with the child during the session. But let me tell you. It is HARD.
It’s not hard to do all the time. But it is hard to do all day every day for years upon years. Which leads me to-
And it’s not because I don’t like you or don’t want to help you. It’s usually because I have administrative stuff to do or because I am just tired from my own family and want to go home early. (But seriously, please show up!)
And it’s not because I don’t care about your child. When things get repetitive, people can daydream for a second. Usually, I just admit it to your child and get back in it. Luckily, kids are pretty forgiving.
No offense to anyone’s kids! But, you know as well as I do that listening to a 15 minute story about Minecraft or Pokemon Go or Nerf guns or some YouTube sensation that I have never heard of can be challenging. The upside is that I often learn about some cool newthings from your children!
Really, your child is doing the work! And so are you! But, when things are going well, I really want to celebrate and take credit for being a rock star therapist.
I want to see everyone succeed and anything less than that really leaves me burnt out and sad.
It usually means that they are suicidal or about to runaway or in big trouble with their grades. It rarely means that they have nothing to talk about.
Believe it or not, some days every child that comes in wants to have a sword fight. And sometimes, I get tired of sword fighting. I think kids feel the same way when they are asked to come straight home from school and do more homework.
The beauty of play therapy is that kids use play to show you how they are feeling. Some kids are just exhausted. I feel ya!
Everywhere I go I am on the look out for new toys, sand tray figures, games, or books. Vacations, gift shops, garage sales-I am there and I am buying!
I buy way more stuff than I really need because it a “business expense.”
Usually, it’s not a problem. But every once and a while, I have those problem claims that are so frustrating!
Truly, I love my clients and my colleagues and play therapy. Having a private practice and helping kids and families really makes me happy.
And I hope you love your job as much as I love mine. And, I also hope that you can laugh at some of the parts that are sometimes a tiny bit annoying.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Registered Play Therapist, subscribe to the blog for tips and tools related to helping children through play.
If you can relate or know someone who can, be sure to share with a friend! Finding humor in the everyday is the key to self-care!
Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org
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