What is play therapy?
Primarily used for children, play therapy involves a trained practitioner (that’s me!) encouraging the client to use toys, age-appropriate language, and games to explore life events that are affecting current circumstances and behavior.
I practice child-led therapy, where the child directs the pace of the session – this allows them to really explore their emotions and process unresolved trauma. This often involves the use of art, dolls, a sand tray, books, imaginative play, costumes, and puppets. The most important factor in play therapy is the relationship between the therapist and the child, and that your child feels like they are safe and respected.
What can you help with?
Play therapy is an effective intervention for children struggling with a wide variety of issues: those who have experienced or witnessed domestic violence, attachment issues, aggression, divorce, death of a loved one, anxiety, sexual abuse, neglect, toxic stress (C-PTSD), trauma, difficulty regulating emotions, and physical or verbal abuse. Children in foster care almost always benefit from play therapy.
Play therapy is also helpful if you’re not sure what is going on with your kid, but you know something is going on and they need help.
Do you accept insurance?
I am currently unable to accept insurance, but I do have a limited number of sliding scale spots, and I offer reduced rates for children in foster care. Contact me for more information.
Who are you the best fit for?
Everyone has different needs in a mental health provider, and children are no different. What works for one person doesn’t work for another, and it doesn’t mean anyone is doing anything wrong. There are plenty of excellent play therapists here in Athens (I share an office with a whole bunch of them). It can be hard to know who would be the best for your child – I get it! I can help. First and foremost, I love children, and love working with them. My entire professional career has focused on helping children feel safe, secure, and loved, and giving parents the tools to provide these things for their kids. I am more than happy to make whatever referrals you need.
What experience do you have?
I’ve worked in many different setting and situations: caring for small children and teenagers in emergency shelters, conducting home visits for adults and children with developmental disabilities, providing support to women who are struggling with perinatal mood disorders, and helping families with medically fragile children access services. In addition to play therapy, I’m also currently working with the Department of Public Health with a program called Babies Can’t Wait – I provide early intervention services to children and families in rural areas in Oglethorpe, Morgan, and Greene counties. I’m also trained in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, so I am comfortable working with children as young as 2 years old. If this doesn’t sound like what you’re looking for, I’m happy to help you find a therapist who would be a better fit.
OK, I’m in. How do we get started?
The first time we meet, I’ll conduct what is called an intake, and I will always ask that parents attend this. This is just going to be information gathering – I am going to ask you a ton of nosy questions. Sometimes it is best that your child attends with you to get comfortable in the playroom, but under some circumstances, you might want to discuss things with me outside your child’s hearing. This is particularly important if your child has experienced abuse or trauma. If this is the case, feel free to come by yourself to the intake. Because securing childcare can be tricky, we can always conduct the intake via telehealth. We will come up with some goals, and you will decide if I seem like a good fit for your family.
Can you make my kid behave?
I can’t even make my own kids behave, so probably not. But I might be able to tell you what they’re trying to accomplish with the behavior.
How long is this going to take?
Every child is different, and timelines are unpredictable and depend on a lot of different factors. I promise I’ll always be transparent about the progress your child is making.
Can I stay for the session?
We never want your child to feel unsafe or out of control when coming to therapy, but ideally we will be working towards having caregivers wait outside during therapy. This might take a few visits.
Can you be my therapist too?
I am currently only working with children, but I have a long list of excellent local therapists I would be happy to refer you to. Your mental health is just as important as your child’s.
Dress your kid in clothes that can get messed up. Be patient. You know more than you think you do. You’re doing great. Your kid is doing great. Children are resilient. Thank you so much for trusting me with your child.