Brenda Graham, Ph.D., RPT
Mental Health Counseling for Individuals, Couples and Families.
What is a Registered Play Therapist?
A Registered Play Therapist is a mental health professional who has advanced, post-graduate training and education in child development and play therapy. Registered Play Therapists are required to have 150 hours of approved instruction in play therapy; 2000 hours of clinical experience including 500 hours of play therapy supervised experience; and 75 hours of play therapy supervision. They are certified through the Association for Play Therapy, Inc. www.4pt.org, and they are required to complete continuing education credits.
Play Therapists are excellent resources for parents regarding family life and parenting skills. Parenting DVDs and valuable information hand outs are often used by Play Therapist. Sometimes parents feel that seeking counseling for children is a sign of failue, when in reality it is a sign of deep love and concern.
Children are unable to understand and talk about their feelings the way adults do, and this makes adult therapies inappropriate in meeting children's special needs. Children do not yet possess the verbal and higher level thinking skills adults have. Just as adults use words to communicate, children use play and toys as their words to "talk". Sometimes children have difficulty expressing their feelings which can lead to undesirable behavior. Play therapy can benefit children and families when this happens.
In play therapy the therapist often utilizes play to help children learn adaptive behaviors. In a safe and caring environment, aided by a trained play therapist, children can recreate or replay the experiences that are part of their anger, fears, sadness, or frustration currently influencing their behavior.
Play therapy promotes cognitive development, insight and helps the child resolve inner conflicts. Children learn to improve communication, express feelings, modify behaviors, and develop problem solving skills.