Frequently Asked Questions
How long is a play therapy session?
Play therapy sessions are between 40-50 minutes depending on the age and needs of the child. Wherever possible, they are the same time and place each week to promote consistency, predictability and routine - all factors that enhance feelings of safety and security in children.
Who goes in to the therapy room?
In general, parents/carers do not come in to the play therapy room. There may be times where it is very difficult for children to separate from grown ups and in these cases, they may accompany the child in for a short while. Parents/carers are asked to wait in the waiting room for the duration of the therapy session so children feel safe in the knowledge you are out there waiting.
What should my child wear?
Comfortable clothing that are ok to get dirty are best! Art products are part of the therapy room and children do love to get messy. In order to promote freedom of expression without the fear of ruining a precious piece of clothing, is is therefore best to wear something basic.
What do I say to my child before/after a therapy session?
It is great to come to therapy with a positive attitude (although this doesn't always happen!). Before a session it is important not to suggest what a child should talk about or tell me. I know this can be really hard! However, it is so important to allow the child to take themselves where they need to go not where we as parents/carers think they need/should go. We need to trust they will go where they need to. It's important when a child leaves the therapy room, not to ask whether they had fun or ask questions of them .This might seem counter-intuitive to many parents/carers, however the aim is to try to set up a non-judgmental, confidential atmosphere where a child feels free to express themselves without feeling they have to talk about the experience after. Sometimes, without realising it, our questions can set up an expectation in a child. In addition, whilst therapy might be fun on one level, it can also be emotionally challenging on another. This can leave a child confused about whether he/she 'did therapy right'. This may seem like, as a parent you have little input, but remember, everything you don't do or say also has an impact on a child and can give them confidence, freedom and space to express themselves.
What if my child says he/she doesn't want to go to therapy?
It can be quite challenging for some children to come to a space they haven't been to before, to spend time with a person they don't know. Validating these feelings can sometimes help to calm any fears a child might have about coming to therapy. The important thing your child needs to know is that they will never be forced to do or say anything they do not want to do. This includes coming into the therapy room.
How do I explain play therapy to my child?
The way you talk about therapy to your child will depend on the child's age and developmental level. The important thing is that children do not feel they are coming to therapy because they are or have been 'bad' or 'naughty'. Framing children's experiences in ways such as 'there are times where your feelings have been so big for you to handle' or ' sometimes it's been hard for you and you don't know why' are examples of how to describe reasons for attending play therapy to ensure children don't feel blamed. For an audiovisual example of what to say to children before attending therapy, please go to the "How It Works" section of this website.
When do parents/carers/guardians speak with you?
Before meeting your child, an initial consult is set up with both parents/guardians/carers (if possible) to get a detailed understanding of your child's world. Once your child commences therapy, we will meet every 3-4 weeks to regularly assess how your child (and you!) are going. Phone contact or email is also possible between these times if anything of significance occurs or support is required.
Do you have contact with other professionals/individuals or agencies if necessary?
Your child is part of a system ( for example, school, sport, social etc) and each part of this system can influence your child. As such, I encourage communication between myself and any part of the system that might be effecting your child. For example, having communication with class teachers is often helpful in getting a broader understanding of the needs of your child and tracking improvements outside of the home environment. Any contact made would be done as part of a discussion between myself and parents/guardians and only when I have received verbal and written permission.
How long will I have to bring my child the therapy?
This is a difficult question to answer and depends on many factors such as ongoing availability, response to therapy, severity of symptoms, financial considerations, to name a few! It is important to consider the possibility that therapy may be needed past the 10 Medicare rebatable sessions offered. Although this does not happen in all cases, it might be necessary for your child to get the most out of therapy and make the internal changes necessary to explore difficult emotions and alter maladaptive behaviours. Although this may seem daunting, a commitment to therapy whilst your child is young may avoid entrenched behaviours, thoughts and feelings that can be more difficult to change as the child becomes older and moves through adolescence and adulthood.