"Toys are children's words and play is their language."- Garry Landreth
Play Therapy is an evidence-based treatment used to treat a variety of social and emotional needs in children. Play Therapy is a form of therapy that goes hand-in-hand with the child's natural developmental and social processes. Young children who lack abstract thought are able to play out their feelings through symbolic play. Young children are not "miniature adults" and are unable to talk about their feelings in the same way as adults. Play is the natural medium of expression for children until they are able to access their emotional world verbally. This usually occurs around age eleven, when symbolic thought begins to emerge.
I work with children using both directive and non-directive approaches, depending on the child's age, temperament and treatment goals. Through the use of sandtrays, carefully-selected toys, and various art mediums, children are able to process difficult experiences and express their innermost thoughts and feelings, while at the same time learning to regain control over their experiences. Play therapy enables children to learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavioral patterns, develop more effective problem-solving skills and learn healthy ways of relating to others. Play provides children a safe psychological distance from their problems and enables them to express thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.
Play therapy is helpful to treat problems associated with:
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Death of a family member or pet
As a Certified Trauma Specialist, I am well-versed in evidence-based trauma treatments for both children and adolescents, and have had years of experience treating single, multiple, and complex trauma and PTSD.
When working with young children, I utilize play therapy to help children heal from traumatic life experiences, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, and witnessing domestic violence. Through play, children are able to express and explore traumatic memories in a safe and trusting environment. Children are able to externalize their experiences and gain distance from traumatic memories by projecting their feelings and experiences onto the toys, through which they can be understood and processed therapeutically, creating a sense of mastery over the trauma.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
When working with older children and adolescents, I utilize Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), an evidence-based treatment that helps resolve emotional and behavioral difficulties stemming from traumatic experiences. It is a structured, short-term treatment model (8-25 sessions) that incorporates both individual and family sessions, with the goal of returning to pre-trauma functioning and improving cognitive, affective, and behavioral trauma symptoms such as depression, anxiety and aggression.
Yoga and Mindfulness
I have a strong background in Yoga and am a certified Yoga Instructor, with a specialization in teaching yoga to children. Depending on the individual and the treatment goals, I will often incorporate yoga, breathing techniques and mindfulness into therapy.
Young children will learn different breathing techniques, yoga poses, visualization exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation to utilize as coping skills to help them manage anxiety, depression, aggression, sensory difficulties and hyperactivity.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
I am trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) which is an evidence-based practice that combines traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with dialectical philosophy and Eastern mindfulness practice. DBT helps adolescents learn coping skills and healthy, adaptive behaviors, to reduce self-destructive behaviors and maladaptive thought patterns. It is especially helpful in treating depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and self-harming behaviors.