(Names and Identifying information have been changed to protect the identity of these children)
Oliver, a shy 5 year old child was referred to therapy by his mother and teacher, as they noticed that he tended to shut down or ‘freeze’ when something upset him in class. When something upset him, he would make eye contact, but chose not to talk to anyone, almost for a whole school day. At his first session with me, Oliver chose to stand in a corner and not participate through play or talk. After 6 months of two 30-minute play therapy sessions a week*, Oliver made significant progress in therapy and at school. His teacher reported that Oliver had a more happy and relaxed demeanor in class, was making more friends and was a more active participant in class. Oliver was successful in ‘playing’ out his anxiety and social inhibitions in our sessions.
*Independent research and my experience has shown that two 30-40 minute sessions a week tend to yield quicker results than one 45-60 minute session.
Julia, a 6 year old child was referred to therapy for frequent sadness and isolation at school. Julia had symptoms of depression. She was raised by a single mother, and Julia missed her father. She often appeared sad and often remarked feeling bored by everything. She participated in one 45-min play therapy session per week for 2 years, while her mother participated in parenting consults from time to time. At the time of Julia’s graduation from therapy, her mother noticed a significant difference in her demeanor. Her teacher remarked seeing Julia smile and laugh more in school, and be willing to take more risks in class.
Jabal, an 8 year old boy, was referred to me for aggressive behaviors toward himself and others at school. He appeared to struggle to manage his frustrations in school. He tended to hit his head repeatedly if something did not go as he expected. At times he also hit other children in his class, or his siblings at home. Jabal participated in play therapy with the goal of helping him express his anger and frustration through play. He participated in roughly two 30-minute sessions a week for 5 months, followed by one 45 minute session per week for another 5 months, and phased out of therapy with one 30 minute session per two weeks for another 4 months. Jabal was able to regulate his emotions through play, and within the first 6 months his aggression towards himself and his peers stopped. With time, Jabal grew increasingly successful in expressing and channeling his frustrations in a productive direction. Towards his graduation from therapy, Jabal’s teacher commended his ability to return his focus on his work after making an error. Together with parent support and consistent play therapy sessions, Jabal was able to regulate his emotions through play.
Mariana, a 10 year old child, was referred to me by her mother for recent heightened relationship conflict between mother and child. Mariana willingly engaged in play therapy sessions at a frequency of one 45 min session/week for 6 months, while mother participated in parenting consults with me. In 6 months, mother reported no relationship conflict with her daughter at all and instead reported increased affection and empathy from Mariana towards her mother, and an increased ability to communicate verbally through disagreements.
Kelly, a 7 year old child, was a recent refugee to this country. Her family experienced multiple traumas in the process of living through war, camp and resettlement in the United States. Kelly was struggling in school. She had many learning barriers - she showed signs of developmental delay, excessive energy, disruptive behaviors, difficulties making friends and low frustration tolerance. She engaged in roughly 40 play therapy sessions with me over a period of 2 years, together with other supportive services like Speech therapy, Occupational therapy and case management services. Despite initial language barriers, Kelly could participate in play therapy, since play is a universal language. She made tremendous progress in her work with me over 2 years. She was able to follow directions from her teachers in class, and her disruptive behaviors in classroom started to decrease and eventually became negligible, giving her the ability to now focus and learn in school.