The What & Why of Play Therapy

If you want to understand what your child sees, feels, and thinks about the life and world she is experiencing, watch the way she plays without judging or correcting.

Plato said, "You can learn more about a person in one hour of play than in a year of conversation."

Play is the natural way that children communicate and make sense of their experiences and the world around them. When children have experienced trauma, have developed an intense fear or have recently lost a loved one they need to be able to work through and recover from how these experiences are affecting them.

If you are like most parents, you may not realize the power of play and you may expect your child to be able to use his words to tell you what he wants, how he's feeling and what his needs are. 

Even though a child may be highly verbal, she doesn't yet have the brain development to be able to process his experiences verbally as an adult would do in talk therapy. Her mastery of language is growing every day, but play is still a child's primary language. 

Play is also a way you can bond with your child on a regular basis. There has been a lot of research showing how play helps people of all ages to combat stress and experience greater mental and physical health. Your relationship with your child can be bolstered by regular playful interaction.

If your child is experiencing anxiety, grief or has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, you may want to take your child to a licensed mental health professional who is trained in play therapy. 

Play therapy provides a safe outlet for children to explore and express perceptions, memories and feelings.  It has been said by leaders in the field of play therapy that play is a child's language and the toys are her words.  As a Registered Play Therapist, I am intensively trained in  understanding your child's language of play. I provide children an emotionally safe place to show me her world, what she is feeling and what she most needs as she plays.

There are three approaches to play therapy. 

  • Child Centered Play Therapy
  • Directive Play Therapy
  • Prescriptive Play Therapy

Child Centered Play Therapy is the foundation of all play therapy. It is rooted in deep respect for the child as an individual and for his unique way of experiencing his life and world. In child centered play therapy we provide a space that is non-judging, reflective and we ensure the child knows he is heard and seen with very close attention and empathy. This is a non-directive approach, allowing for the child to explore and expression whatever he needs and wishes trusting that he will naturally work through and resolve whatever needs to be worked through and resolved in natural time with the toys in the play room. The play therapist holds this space and is closely present, witnessing and tracking the child's choices and expressions affirmatively. 

Directive Play Therapy built on a foundation of the essence of child centered play therapy allows for the therapist to provide directed play techniques and interventions to support the child in learning new skills or providing specific avenues often evidence-based that assist the child with a particular issue that we know the child is grappling with. For example if a child is presenting with with inability to self-soothe when highly anxious a directive play therapy technique might be to introduce "the birthday cake breath" where the child is directed to imagine she has baked a yummy smelling cake with a yummy scent she wants to breathe in deeply and then blowing out the candles on the cake. This helps a child learn how to have a bodily experience of deep inhales and full exhales which can generate a calming effect. 

Prescriptive Play Therapy is an approach that considers that we must meet the child where the child is, assess the needs of the child based on what we observe in his play and then create a plan for the therapy that provides a combination of child centered play therapy and directive play techniques centering around the unique issues and challenges the child is presenting. 

Play therapy is the most developmentally appropriate approach to providing therapy to young children. When needed, boundaries and limits are set in the play room in order to keep children safe and support them in developing their own internal self-regulation.

play-2293838_640.jpg

Author Carmen Jimenez

Outspoken Counseling and Consulting LLC is excited to announce the publishing of the first children's book written by our Clinical Director, Carmen Jimenez. The publication "No, No Elizabeth" is Jimenez's first published work.

The story follows a sweet little girl named Elizabeth who wants to play all day! From running around outside to jumping on the bed, she's a curious little girl. But Mommy, Daddy and even Liza the kitty can't always play and sometimes they must say "no." Through this sweet colorful book, early readers will learn just because grown ups say "no" sometimes, doesn't mean they love any less.

You can preorder this book from Amazon or Warren Publishing's website! Live readings and workshops will be announced soon!

FullSizeRender.jpg

Nkechi M. Scott is a License Master Social Worker

Nkechi M. Scott is a License Master Social Worker with a Bachelor of Science degree in Child and Family Development from Benedict College and holds a Masters of Social Work degree from University of South Carolina. Nkechi has over 18 years of social work experience in the public and private sector.

Nkechi has experience with working with individuals from diverse backgrounds as well as experience in conducting informational workshops and presentations for state and non-profit agencies.

Nkechi conducts clinical assessments and provides individual and family therapy services.

IMG_4417.JPG

Three Common Pitfalls When it Comes to Trust in Relationships

Trust is an important factor in any relationship. Trust helps us to feel secure in our relationship - that, even if there are challenges further down the line, there's still a strong foundation to fall back on. 

Of course, it's not always easy to express trust constructively. Things can get in the way - insecurities about the relationship, fears about things that might go wrong, weak points in terms of communication - and it can be easy to fall into a number of common 'trust pitfalls'.

If any of the following sound familiar, it may be worth having a think about the ways in which you approach trust in your relationship - and whether any support might be necessary.

The 'tight grip' relationship

The 'tight grip' relationship is a type of relationship in which either one or both partners feel unable to trust the other, and become jealous and controlling as a result. They might raise suspicions about what the other partner is doing when they're not around them or get upset when they spend time with other people.

The 'tight grip' relationship is rarely a satisfying situation for either of the pair. The person raising the suspicions often doesn't want to feel like this - sometimes acting out of a sense of inadequacy as much as anything else - and the person being accused feels like their partner has no faith in them.

If you're in a 'tight grip' relationship, you might want to consider Relationship Counseling. The counselor will try to help identify where this behavior comes from - often looking at whether there's anything in the jealous partner's past that is making them insecure.

The ostrich relationship

In the 'ostrich relationship', one or both partners are aware their relationship may have issues that need exploring, but prefer to simply bury their heads in the sand. This can be a result of insecurities about certain things - such as the relationship's future or areas of incompatibility, personality wise. Although this approach can allow the couple to avoid tricky areas of discussion for a while, it isn't a sustainable solution: these things are likely to need talking about at one point either way.

If you find yourself avoiding certain topics, ask yourself why. If you're honest with yourself, you'll realize there are areas of your relationship that might need work. This isn't a disaster! Coming to terms with the challenges ahead is a much better place from which to proceed than pretending that everything is perfect.

The 'scales of trust' relationship

Some couples find themselves in constant conflict over trust, with each accusing the other of not trusting them enough.

For instance, one member of the couple might insist that they're perfectly capable of looking after the children by themselves, saying that the other should have more faith in them. The other might fire back that they're rarely afforded this level of trust themselves.

Like the 'ostrich relationship', this kind of conflict can be borne out of a desire to avoiding talking about things properly. By accusing our partner of not giving us enough credit, we avoid the spotlight being put on the things that we actually aren't doing very well. We know that acting as if we've been wronged can help us to look right.

Again, it's best to face tricky topics head on rather than pretend they aren't there. Accusing your partner of not trusting you enough is only likely to build up resentment - and then you may end up bringing up the real issues in the middle of an argument.

15 Fun Ways to Play and Connect with your Child

15 Fun Ways to Play and Connect with your Child

Because connection with your child is so essential.  I am sharing some fun and playful ways to engaged with your child.

1. Chase Games – These can be done outdoors in just a few minutes, or even inside!  We have a safe zone in our house for chasing games!  They can involve your child chasing you, you chasing your child, playing tag where one person is “it”, etc.  There can be hugs at the end when a person is caught – or a tickle!

2. Hide and Seek – Kids as young as 2 can begin to play this favorite.  Start off by hiding yourself and having them try to find you.  Or hide an item and look for it together.  Give a hug when the person is found – or chase back to a certain spot!

3. The Mommy/Daddy Trap Game – The mommy/daddy trap is a snug hug that is given to your child, while sitting on a couch or bed.  The parent wraps his or her arms and legs around their child, hugging, but also “trapping” them in the hug.  When the parent says a “magic” word the child then tries escape from the hug.  This is done in a playful and silly manner.  My son absolutely loves this game and we end up playing it for over 20 minutes at a time!

4. Tickles – Some kids like tickles and some don’t and it’s important to always respect your child’s wishes for their own body.  Tickles can be a game in themselves, or a reward while playing hide and seek or a chase game.  Kids also usually love to tickle adults – even if they don’t like it themselves!

5. This Little Piggy – I began playing this game with my son when he was an infant and I use it on all the foster children who enter my home.  The traditional form of “This Little Piggy,” but I change the locations of where the little piggy goes….for example, “this little piggy went to the park, this little piggy went to Starbucks, this little piggy went to the swimming pool, this little piggy went to Toys R Us, and this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home.”  I am amazed at how many time children will ask for “more, more” when playing this!!  Always a favorite at our house – even with a 9 year old!

6. Dancingto Music – When my son was three he loved to dance and march in place.  He would do this for hours.  It never ceased to generate smiles and laughter!  Create your own special dance – or play some fun music and get up, out of your chair, and dance with your kids.  You will be amazed at how fun this can be!

7. Floor Play - Sometimes doing a simple activity like a jigsaw puzzle, or a stacking game together on the floor can be all a child needs to connect.  Open-ended toys like blocks, cars and trucks, and dolls provide many ways for your child to direct the play and you to follow their lead – something kids love!

8. Exploration Walks Outside –  There’s something about being outside together, in a natural area, that is good for the soul!  Try exploring a new park, a local pond, or even just follow a trail that you haven’t been down before.   My favorite spot in our town is the “greenbelt” where we can hop on at any location, leading to a new set of discoveries.  Your child will pick up on your sense of adventure and exploration and you’ll get some fresh air and sunshine!

9. Imaginative Play – One of the toddler and preschooler’s favorite forms of play. Join in his/her play by being a willing participant (be a firefighter too!), a helping character (become the mechanic when the train breaks), or a subordinate (be the patient when she’s the doctor.)  Remember to follow your child’s lead, ask questions like “Where should we go next?  What should we do next?” and get on his/her level when playing.

10. Slippery Arm – Using lots of lotions, gently hold onto your child’s arm and have them try to pull their arm away from you.  Because of the lotion, the should be able to get away easily.  If it is difficult to get away, use more lotion!  This is a playful and giggle worthy game.  Great for nurturing a child because of the touch that is occurring.  Trade places and let your child grab your arm too!

11. Build a Fort–  This is one of my son’s very favorite activities and ways to connect!  I have pictures of building forts when he was 2 and 3 years old, and he continues at age 9 to love inventing new construction in our home.  It’s a great time to wrap each other up in blankets and have a pillow fight while being creative!

12. Pillow Play – When your kids are old enough to enjoy it, have a good old-fashioned pillow fight!  Perfect physical play with guaranteed giggles!

13. Creating - Make art together or build something together.  Need some inspiration check out Pinterest for new ideas?

14. Mirroring Games – These are guaranteed a laugh, as long as your child doesn’t feel he/she is being mocked. Spontaneously start copying what your child is doing!  Make funny faces and try to imitate each other.  Follow the leader.  Keep in mind, once you begin this game your child may continue far beyond when you end the game!!

15. Nightly Snuggle and Chat – A really nice way to end the day, I do this with my son every night.  After reading our bedtime story, we snuggle for a bit while talking about what happened that day.  It’s great for helping your child feel listened to and in turn to develop listening skills, but most of all it’s really nice bonding time.

Codependent No More Book Recommendation

This was an interesting recommendation from a presenter at training I attended. It is geared more to spouses of alcohol and drug dependent people, however I have discovered a lot of good information. It is a way to help see how we give too much attention and time to the toxic people in our lives. I feel that the book is well written on an average person level with real and even funny stories. 

It is informative in the fact that a lot of individuals are trying to help others and always put others feelings before there own. 

In my practice I have recommend this book to individuals that are dealing with a partner that are dealing with addiction issues. I have also recommended this book to other individuals connected to someone to the point of codependency. 

About the author…Melody Beattie is one of America’s most beloved self-help authors and a household name in addiction and recovery circles.  Her international bestselling book, Codependent No More, introduced the world to the term “codependency”.  Millions of readers have trusted Melody’s words of wisdom and guidance because she knows firsthand what they’re going through. In her lifetime, she has survived abandonment, kidnapping, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, divorce, and the death of a child.

She is the author of Beyond Codependency, The Language of Letting Go, Stop Being Mean to Yourself, The Codependent No More Workbook and Playing It by Heart.

 

(Author information from www.melodybeattie.com)

Advantages of Paying Privately for Therapy Services

Why should I choose to pay for therapy myself?

There are advantages and drawback both of out-of-pocket private payment and to using insurance and medicaid.  Obviously, the biggest drawback of out-of-pocket private pay is that it is an immediate out-of-pocket expense.  However, there are several advantages of private pay that may make the expense worthwhile.

Confidentiality and Privacy

Clients who pay out of pocket are guaranteed that the only people who know any of the details of therapy are themselves and their therapist.  Aside from normal limits to confidentiality, therapy is completely confidential, without any third party being privy to information exchanged in session.

Service without Hindrances, Pressure or Stigma

Most insurance providers require a mental health diagnosis in order for therapy to be covered.  This means that many issues (such as grief and loss, life stress, or personal growth) are not covered by insurance.  When clients pay out-of-pocket, there is no requirement of a mental health diagnosis for treatment, which means that anyone can seek treatment.  

Freedom in Treatment

Private pay clients have complete control of the duration and style of their treatment.  Private pay clients are able to choose the focus of their therapy, the duration of therapy, and the frequency of therapy, and even the length of individual sessions.

Treatment Efficacy

Research shows that clients who have to pay something for their treatment have more positive outcomes that those who receive free treatment.  Not only do you get what you pay for, but the fact that you are paying out of pocket provides extra motivation and incentive to make the most of therapy. 

Potentially Reduced Service Costs

For some clients, their insurance providers require a co-pay and a large deductible to be met when seeking treatment, with the additional feature that standard rates for service apply.  By not taking insurance, I am free to set my own rates and offer a sliding scale to my clients.  This means that privately paying clients can actually pay less than those who pay with insurance, depending on where they fit in the sliding scale, how long treatment lasts, and the details of an individual's insurance plan.

Finding the Right Therapist 

Having a choice is an important factor when it comes to finding someone you trust with your personal concerns. You may for instance prefer seeing someone who was personally recommended to you. When you use your insurance plan, your options are usually limited to therapists within your insurance provider’s network.

I Think my Child Needs ADHD Medication

ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is often characterized in children who have poor attention spans and a difficult time in school. As parents, it may be difficult to hear your child may be suffering from ADHD, but there are options out there. One of the common options is medication to help treat these symptoms. It is important to know this option has advantages and disadvantages and it is important for parents to explore these before they make a quick decision to put their child on medications.

Advantages

One of the common classes of medications to treat ADHD is Stimulants. Stimulants are designed to increase dopamine levels in the brain to increase pleasure, attention, and motivation. Many children go from performing poorly at school to increasing their ability to focus and stay on task with their assignments. This can have a ripple effect to help their mood and social skills, as they will begin to feel more confident they can succeed in school.

Disadvantages

Although there can be marked improvement in your child’s behavior, there may be some risks attached to taking these medications. One of the most common side effects of stimulants is poor appetite. This can lead to weight loss for your child so your doctor will need to monitor this closely. Children can also experience poor sleep, irritability, upset stomach, and headaches to name some of the other common side effects. These side effects and risks should be talked about with your doctor and from there you can make a decision that is right for your child. Along with ADHD, many of these children have symptoms of depression, anxiety, poor social skills, and poor self-esteem. It is important to teach out to a therapist/counselor for help with these symptoms. Children can benefit from the added support of talking about these issues with someone who can be objective.

To learn more about helping your child with ADHD, Depression, Self-Esteem, Anxiety, Social Skills, and other issues affecting them, call 980-272-1922 to make an appointment with one of our trained therapists today!

Stress and Time Management

Stress can come from many aspects of our daily life. One aspect is poor time management. We often become overwhelmed with our personal, professional and social responsibilities. It's important to learn time management skills to balance the many things we want to do and the things we need to do. Becoming structured andorganized will   decrease the levels of stress we experience.  Below you will find four steps to help you start managing your time. 

Learn how to say no.  In many cases, time management stress originates from over-commitment.  Perhaps you feel uncomfortable telling someone no due to fear of disappointment.   You may be concerned about losing friends or “falling off the radar” if you pass on the latest invitation.  That is a normal reaction, but rest assured that saying no to things you cannot fit into your schedule will not hurt your relationship with someone, particularly if that relationship is built on mutual respect and is a true friendship.   Don’t worry about finding a good excuse, as that can often lead to stretching the truth which you’ll later feel guilty about and can cause even more stress.   The best approach is to be direct and polite.

Prioritize.  Sit down and look at how you’re spending your days.  What’s truly important to you?  What is essential to your daily routine?  How can you cut out non-essential tasks and group tasks together so that you can manage them more effectively?

Make time to plan.  Set aside at least 10 minutes each day to review the next day’s activities and plan for the coming weeks ahead.  A schedule isn’t worth very much if it isn’t up to date, so strive to maintain your time management system once it is established!

Ask for help.  Are you making a special trip to the dry cleaners each week when your spouse drives right past it every day to work?  What may be an hour roundtrip activity for you could just be an extra 5 or 10 minutes for them.  Sit down with your partner and review the household duties periodically to make sure you have a system that’s effective for both of you.