“Play is the language; toys are the words.”
Research supports the effectiveness of therapy for children for resolving such issues as behavior problems, aggression, anxiety, fearfulness, separation anxiety, social problems, trauma, and low self-esteem.
We like to think childhood should be an idyllic time in which children play, have fun, and learn. We like to think children never have problems, or nothing more significant than a skinned knee or a cancelled play date. However, for children, just as for adults, sometimes small problems can pile up, repeating themselves so often that children begin to view the world with a negative slant. They then engage with the world as if it is their enemy, and lose the ability to enjoy spontaneous pleasures.
Therapy can help children begin to confront their problems in the safety of a protected play environment. Within that safe environment, children can begin to find creative solutions to their problems. Joy uses play therapy, art therapy, solution-focused strategies and cognitive-behavioral therapy with children to help them systematically address and resolve their own problems.
Play therapy, specifically, helps children access their unconscious feelings through play. Children are able to express things in play that they don’t have the words to describe. The language for emotions is very complicated and abstract; often children don’t have enough facility with language to describe their feelings or why they feel the way they do. Play is their “work.” In therapy, they can play out their lives, their stories, and their feelings. Play therapy is to a child what talk therapy is to an adult—a way to share their innermost feelings, desires, and conflicts, and then work together with the therapist to find new ways of looking at things, new solutions to try, and new ways of interacting with the world.
Play therapy helps children learn about their own capabilities and limitations, social rules, and the difference between fantasy and reality. They are able to rehearse new skills during therapy sessions, so that they are ready to try them out when they return to school or home. Joy helps children develop a plan to deal with their life’s circumstances in a healthy, effective way.
Joy works with parents in order to understand their children. Every session involves time for parent input and feedback. Joy recognizes that she will never know your child as well as you do. “I’m the expert on child behavior; you’re the expert on your child.”