Play Therapy

Play therapy is one type of therapeutic play. According to the Play Therapy International Organization (PTI), the first recorded therapeutic play occurred in 1919 and play therapy was based on the seminal work of Virginia Axline and Violet Oaklander. Children ages 3-11 would benefit most from play therapy, as this is their natural language of creative expression, however, play therapy can be utilized with individuals of all ages in individual and family therapy. Play therapy incorporates many different creative outlets including: art, music, dance, movement, puppets/masks, clay, and sand tray. Additional techniques used by play therapists include incorporating drama (role plays), creative visualization, and therapeutic story-telling. In sum, play therapy is an engaging form of therapy that provides an alternate outlet for children to process difficult emotions and experience healing and improved psychological functioning.

Learn More About Parent-Children Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

PCIT is an intervention designed for children between the age of 2 and 8 years of age who have disruptive behaviors problems. PCIT incorporates both parent and child within the treatment session and uses individualized parent coaching to address aspects of parent-child interactional patterns. PCIT is conducted in two phases, with an initial focus on enhancement of the parent-child relationship and then on improving child compliance. This treatment approach is effective in improving parenting skills, decreasing child behavioral problems and strengthening the relationship between parent and child.

Learn More About Sandplay

Sandplay is a cross-cultural, nonverbal, and hands-on therapeutic modality for both children and adults. It was originally developed by Swiss Jungian Analyst Dora M. Kalff in the 1950’s and was based on tenets of C.G. Jung that focused on the natural wisdom inherent in our unconscious and the development of the Self. In Sandplay, the client is encouraged to select miniature figures, toys, and objects and place them in the sand independently. Afterward, they can add water to the sand if they choose. According to Kalff, whose work led to the Sandplay Therapists of America, the therapist does not interpret or intervene but acts as a ‘silent witness’ to this process. The items placed in the sand represent ‘archetypal symbols from the unconscious’ according to Carl Jung. This form of play allows individuals to process difficult emotions or internal struggles at a pace that is comfortable for them. Client’s create visual images with these figures which can help connect the unconscious struggles of their inner world with conscious healing in a protected space. Sandplay has positive implications for disaster relief and trauma, which is especially relevant during this time.

Learn More About Sand Tray Therapy

Sand Tray therapy is a different type of Sandplay which combines play therapy and art therapy. It can also be used alongside other therapeutic modalities such as humanistic therapy (Dr. Steve Armstrong, 2012) which provides the opportunity for the verbal and nonverbal therapeutic process to unfold. Although Sand Tray, like Sandplay involves a Sand Tray and figures, it is more interactive with the therapist often playing a more direct role in the session. Both modalities can be a useful tool for clients to process issues of identity, anxiety, grief, divorce, depression, psycho-somatic symptoms, perfectionism, and even the inability to express feelings. Sand Tray allows the client to use the four corners of the Sand Tray as a way to contain their feelings in a safe space. In this modality, the therapist and client may discuss what toys are selected, the positions of the figures, and potential symbolism, as clinically indicated. After this discussion, clients may change or alter their Sand Tray designs, which represents the interactive nature of this modality. In sum, Sand Tray and Sandplay are both engaging and relaxing therapeutic modalities that allows clients to gain insight while also having fun!