I utilize a psychodynamic play therapy approach, in which the therapist listens carefully to the concrete details of the play as well as the underlying dynamics that may have their roots in the child’s experience. I work within the context of the child’s play to help them identify and express emotions and engage in problem solving. I then attempt to communicate and interpret the meaning of the play, and clarify possible conflicts raised in the play (or within the child). This work occurs on several levels. For example, a child and therapist who are helping two puppets work through an argument can actually be engaging in a number of therapeutic experiences: identifying one or more feelings, verbalizing those feelings, engaging in problem-solving, taking the perspective of another, managing conflict, being assertive rather than timid or aggressive, etc. Some play therapy is more or less directive, meaning that at times, I may be more of an observer and commentator on the play and at other times you may see me be more concrete and direct about how the play may address a particular need or concern.
Art as a therapeutic tool focuses on the importance of each person’s experiences by acknowledging the importance of individual thought and the ability to think creatively. Through art, children can share and show another person a glimpse of their inner world. Evoking conversation by deciphering these symbols and messages enables the child to communicate in a safe and secure environment. Because children are still in the process of acquiring language skills, art can be a useful and tangible means of communication and self-expression.
The combination of these two methodologies allows children and their families to tell, own, and honor their experiences as part of the therapeutic process. Incorporating
these two forms of therapy as a form of self-expression focuses on the process of growth and healing.