What Is Play Therapy?

What is play therapy? 2018-01-23T13:20:25+00:00

Play is the primary language of children. During play therapy, children create play that resembles the difficult or traumatic experiences they are struggling with internally. When facilitated by a trained play therapist, the play becomes focused on the purposes of emotional healing. This leads to a reduction of symptoms (i.e. acting out and aggressive behaviors, somatic complaints, withdrawal or regression, etc.) and the reestablishment of balance in the child’s sense of well-being.

At the Institute, our therapists have a wide variety of backgrounds and licensure in counseling, but all are trained in a cutting-edge form of play therapy called Synergetic Play Therapy. To schedule a session for your child, please contact us at 720-458-9597. You will be asked to do a short ten-minute phone intake in order for us to help you get connected with the best therapist to best support your needs.

Through the play therapy process children create play that resembles the emotional experiences they are struggling with internally. These experiences usually cannot be expressed verbally. Children will select special toys to include in their play and use those toys to recreate issues that represent emotional conflicts that are important to the child. Beginning with this expression, the child’s play evolves until the child gains a sense of understanding and comfort over this situation. Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing: PTSD, behavioral issues, depression, impulsivity, self-esteem issues, academic difficulties, parent-child relationship struggles, social issues, anxiety, loss, divorce/separation, abuse and more… * Copyright 1998 Byron or Carol Norton

What is Synergetic Play Therapy? Synergetic Play Therapists literally get to the root of the struggle, helping transform the child (and the family) from the inside out. As human beings we are given a marvelous coping mechanism in our biology called the nervous system. In simple terms, the nervous system acts like a “honing mechanism” constantly trying to keep us in an optimal state of regulation. When we perceive any form of challenge in our lives, our nervous system gets activated to either rev us up or slow us down—whatever we perceive is necessary to take on the challenge. Every symptom that a child struggles with is rooted in an inability for the nervous system to get them back to a state of regulation. When we have an experience that we have labeled as “challenging” in our perceptions, we will attempt to move away from the physical sensations, emotions and thoughts related to that experience. Neurobiology now shows us that in order for integration to occur, we must move towards the physical sensations, emotions and/or thoughts rather than away from them. Whether a child is struggling with anxiety, depression, loss, impulsivity, sibling rivalry, school issues, friend issues, sensory overwhelm, emotional sensitivity, etc, Synergetic Play Therapy can help.

What are the educational backgrounds of the therapists at PTIC? At the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado, we are dedicated to making sure that your child receives the best care possible.  We hire a select group of highly trained therapists who are in the process of finishing their Master’s Degrees in counseling.  We also hire therapists who have earned their Master’s Degree and are Licensed and have begun to work toward being a Certified Play Therapist. In addition, all our therapists are trained in Synergetic Play Therapy.  Our selection process for therapists is highly rigorous.

What can I expect the process to look like when I call the Institute? When you call the Institute, please leave a message with times that would work for you to discuss your child and the possibility of play therapy.  You will then receive a call from the intake coordinator, who will be happy to help you make the best decision for you and your family.  The coordinator can answer any questions you have about the nature of how Synergetic Play Therapy works and how it would benefit your child based on your concerns. Once you’ve decided to move forward, the coordinator will match you and your child with one of our therapists, based on the nature of your concerns as well as your scheduling parameters.

How do I know if my child is a good candidate for play therapy? All children (and adults!) could benefit from some extra emotional support at various times in their journey. There isn’t an issue that would not be appropriate for play therapy. If additional supports are needed, your therapist will let you know and work with you to find a great resource.  

How often should I anticipate bringing in my child to therapy?  Or, How long will it take to “fix” my child? This all depends on what your kiddo needs.  There is a good case to be made that coming in weekly for a period of time is helpful so that the child can get to know what play therapy is like and the relationship becomes strong enough for healing to happen.  Once this initial period has happened, some parents opt to reduce session to twice per month or less.

How much will it cost?  Do you offer fee reductions?  Do you take insurance or medicaid? Our regular fees are $100-$70 per therapeutic hour. If this does not work for your budget, we do have scholarship money available to help with reduced fees.  Please call the Institute to discuss a fee structure that would work for your unique needs.  We do not accept payment via insurance or Medicaid at this time.

What do the therapy rooms look like? Our play therapy rooms are warm and inviting with a wide assortment of toys, games, and sensory objects useful for exploring.

What if my child is too shy, rambunctious, etc? There is no child too shy or too rambunctious for play therapy.  In fact, Synergetic Play Therapy is uniquely created to meet kiddos exactly where they are as they move toward healing, integration, and greater inner peace.

Do you offer evaluations and/or medicine? We do not offer diagnostic evaluations or prescribe medications but we would be happy to discuss your needs and point you in the right direction towards trusted referrals.

“When I originally found The Play Therapy Institute for my eight-year-old daughter I expected and hoped it would help with her behavioral problems both at school and at home. What I did not expect was to find a resource for our entire family that not only addressed my child’s behavior, but helped identify and work with the root of what was causing it. Since then, both my husband and I as well as our teenage son have spent time at The Play Therapy Institute. It has been life changing for our family, and we feel blessed to have found such a wonderful resource for both ourselves and our children”

-Sara Z