At Play Therapy Melbourne, we practice Child Centered Play Therapy and are informed by the latest research from Interpersonal Neurobiology (pioneered by Dr Dan Siegel), Polyvagal Theory (Dr Stephen Porges) and Synergetic Play Therapy (founded by Lisa Dion).
Our approach is non-directive; rather than the clinician ‘guessing’ what therapeutic activity would be most helpful to the child, our non-directive approach means we let the child guide us, through their play and ways of interacting, to the exact source of their issue.
The child enters the play room and are told they can “do and say most of the things they like”. The clinician then lets the child choose what and how they play. Whilst doing this, the clinician interacts with the child in a way that is authentic, accepting and free from reprimands or judgments. After a short time, children realise they are in an environment free from any emotional or psychological threats and begin to naturally play through their concerns and explore their dysregulated nervous systems.
Therapeutic play is a very gentle form of healing, as it lets children ‘distance’ from their intense emotions or memories. For example, rather than explaining a scary experience and the impact it had, children can ‘distance’ from it by letting the toy dinosaur be scary to the cat, while the cat runs away and hides. The clinician’s role is to stay present and attuned to the child, while helping them make sense of, and regulate through, the emotions that arise as they play. In this way, the clinician helps the child integrate the memory and emotion into their psyche, so it no longer impacts the child.
The clinician will track the progress of your child’s play and presentation in session and will keep in regular contact with you to let you know how they are progressing. In combination with this, the clinician will have you complete regular questionnaires which will monitor how the child’s symptoms are changing at home. The clinician and parent/carer can then make an informed decision about when the child is ready to end therapy.