“Play therapy is a medium for expressing feelings, exploring relationships, and self-fulfillment’.
-Gary Landreth, Ed.D, LPC. RPT-S
Both play therapy and sandtray therapy are evidence-based treatments. Both provide an opportunity for a child to express what he/she/they is thinking or feeling and allow the child to express what he/she/they are struggling with and trying to master competency.
The therapist provides empathic presence and safety which allow the child to explore his/herself and express emotions or thoughts. The sand itself is soothing for a child. The Association for Play Therapy – United States describes play therapy as a natural process that:
- Builds trust and mastery
- Foster’s learning and acceptable behaviors
- Regulates emotions
- Reduces anxiety
- Promotes creative thinking, and problem-solving
- Encourages open communication
- Elevates spirit and self-esteem
(American Play Therapy Association United States brochure, www.a4pt.org).
Kay Gottrich LCPC provides sandtray therapy to help clients express their feelings, thoughts and experiences through the expressive art of sandtray. Kay will ask children to build a world in their sandtray with or without a directive. Children communicate through play so whatever they build in the tray will have meaning for the child. The therapist provides safety, unconditional positive regard, reflection and processing of the sandtray with the child. The child ( teens and adults too) have the innate ability to heal.
Talk therapy will not work with clients who have difficulty with self -regulation until they work on self-regulation and self-soothing skills first. Children’s language is play. Children learn from play and will find mastery over their problem through playing. There is a quote, “What the mind can’t express the hands will”.
Kay also utilizes trauma-focused CBT which she integrates play therapy, music therapy, EMDR and games in order to help children promote integration and healing. Kay also works with parents as part of the child’s therapy experience. Kay may recommend family therapy sessions as well.
Remember there are no bad kids. A child’s behavior is communicating to you on the outside how the child or teen feels on the inside. If a child is feeling dysregulated on the inside he/she will be having symptomatic behavior on the outside.