One of the approaches that Child Health Investment Partnership maintains and provides to our enrolled children is play therapy through our mental health program. This form of mental health or trauma therapy that is provided to children, allows the child to open up and express themselves in a comfortable and known atmosphere to them.
This week, beginning on February 4th and continuing until the 10th, is national play therapy week. The Association for Play Therapy (APT) defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.” In layman’s terms, child play therapy is a way of being with the child that honors their unique developmental level and looks for ways of helping in the “language” of the child – play.
The role of play therapy in counseling services works most successfully when a safe relationship is created between the therapist and the child. The relationship sparks the feeling of freely and naturally expressing both what the child pleases and what bothers them.
APT declares research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters. Through all of these problems, there are benefits to the child through play therapy which include:
- Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
- Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
- Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
- Learn to experience and express emotion.
- Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
- Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
- Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.
At Child Health Investment Partnership of Roanoke Valley, we use play therapy in conjunction with our mental health program to provide an outlet for our enrolled children to self-express themselves through play actions and verbals in order to work through any underlying problems the child may be facing. Our Director of Mental Health Services, LaTonya Bolden, spearheads the efforts at our counseling center on 3rd Street in Roanoke.
For more information on play therapy and its benefits, visit the Association for Play Therapy’s website: http://www.a4pt.org/
For more information on how Child Health Investment Partnership uses play therapy as a form of counseling, visit: http://chiprv.org/