Toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language

– Garry L. Landreth

Being a kid can be hard! In addition to adjusting to constantly changing bodies and minds, children are often managing really big feelings. They are trying to make sense of an ever-expanding world without the information and experience adults have.

Children simply don’t have the words they need to express their feelings related to normal development and challenges. This language gap can be exacerbated by emotional, attachment, and neurodivergent challenges that some children face

Play therapists are mental health professionals with additional specialized education and supervised experience. Play therapists spend years learning to apply the therapeutic powers of play therapy in a systemic approach to mental health assessment and treatment.

What is Play Therapy?

Play therapy is an established, research-supported form of child therapy. It helps children, especially age 3-12, express themselves, heal, and grow. It leverages the natural language of children — play — to help them overcome emotional, and behavioral problems. Whether children are having trouble due to divorce, a recent move, grief and loss, or adoption, play therapy can help! There are a variety of types of play therapy. Dr. Keller uses Gestalt Play Therapy, Child-Centered Play Therapy, and Family Play Therapy with an emphasis on incorporating expressive arts and sand tray therapy.

Sand Tray

The use of sand tray in play therapy is a nonverbal expressive form of expressive arts therapy that uses metaphor to help clients share their experience of the world and change it.

The sand tray itself represents a confined safe space for children to play, and ultimately heal. In the child therapy session, children use a variety of miniature toys to represent their inner world and subconscious in the sand. Sand tray bypasses words and language and engages the right brain to facilitate meaning-making and integration of difficult, even traumatic, material.

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