“What in the world is that noise?!”
And other questions about our play therapy program here at DCFOF.
Guest Blog Author: Dr. Dina Yousef, Child & Adolescent Counselor
You may have wondered what that loud banging throughout the building is, or why there might be a trail of sand left behind in the hallways. You might also wonder why there are colorful and random paint splatters on some of the walls here at the agency. You might even see someone walking around with a smile on her face with paint and glitter in her hair, and she might have just come out of a play session!
While we try our best to contain these kinds of situations; it’s important to know that powerful work is being done here! Many believe that “child’s play” is exactly that- just child’s play. Nothing powerful. Nothing meaningful. Just play. But for children, toys are their words and play is their language.
Play therapy is a developmentally appropriate intervention for children to work through a variety of issues and concerns. Children can learn to heal from their experiences by utilizing toys and materials that enable them to express themselves without having to use “grown up” words. An angry child may be hammering the log with all their might! Or…they could be “building a spaceship to go on an adventure!” A child leaving the room with paint all over their hands might be perceived as messy, but the paint may have allowed that child to create a “masterpiece” that facilitated and encouraged pride and confidence within themselves.
We have seen great success in our clients when utilizing play therapy. Parents often report reduced behaviors in anxiety and depression as well as an increase in confidence and self-esteem. They also express seeing an improvement in their child’s ability to self-regulate as well as having more self-control. As staff members, it’s always an entertaining day when children enter the building, as they are skilled in keeping us on our toes. Literally (for the child that sprints off to the playroom) and figuratively.
In 2017 we served 231 child and adolescent clients, with over 2,400 hours of play and activity therapy. As providers, guiding a child through the healing process and watching them begin to thrive again is such a gift. Thank you to everyone in the community that has continued to support DCFOF and our Children's Program- you have changed lives!
Written by Dr. Dina Yousef, Child & Adolescent Counselor