Arts and Play therapy for children

Arts and Play therapy is an intensive and effective therapy.
Children enjoy this therapy as there is space and recognition for the child. We work with methods which are both appealing to the child and effective.
Arts and Play therapy is child focused. In a playful way the child discovers more adequate ways to deal with difficult situations. Sometimes the issue cannot be resolved completely due to multiple factors involved. However children will become more competent in challenging situations. From various approaches within Arts and Play therapy I choose the approach which suits the child best.

Arts and Play therapy involves various therapeutic methods like therapeutic story making, metaphors, drawing, painting, therapeutic play, puppet play and role play. In addition I use energetic exercises, visualization- and imagination techniques.
Children often express themselves easier in various forms of play than in words. They rather play than talk about difficulties in their lifes. The situation in fantasy play often meets real life. The way a child reacts and makes contact in play often resembles the way it will react in real life. A play can make clear what the child's underlying issues are, or what it would like to change.

The play situations and stories resemble life, however aren't real. We just "pretend". This gives the child the opportunity to discover, to practice, to try out new behaviour. This creates a safe space for healing.

The therapy - Practicalities
At registration (on the parent's initiative or the advice of teacher, GP etc.) an intake between parents and therapist will take place, based on the questionnaire the parents have received in advance. Parents provide important information concerning their child and share their opinion about the possible cause of the problem.

In 5 sessions (an hour each) while using different play therapy techniques, I will get to know the child's inner world. The variety in material at the Child Centre helps them to express their feelings and way of thinking. The diagnostic phase indicates how children can be supported best.

The diagnosis is focused on the initial issue, and especially on the question: what's the child's inside world like? What's the underlying pain, what is too severe to feel and how does this child protect itself against it, or which limiting believes does this child have? Even more important: what resources does the child (unconsciously) have?

After five sessions a consultation with the parents will take place. I propose a process plan for the possible therapy continuation, I estimate the number of required sessions and supply the parents with advice.

After each five sessions a new consultation with the parents will take place in which the progress will be discussed. Communication and/or support advices will be given.
In the final phase the evaluation and conclusion will take place. The conclusion moment is determined by mutual agreement between parent, child and therapist.
If necessary I will contact other important people around the child like their schoolteacher. Of course this will always take place by mutual agreement with the parents (see: support for parents).

Which problems can be dealt with?
. Physical and psychosomatic complaints like hyperventilation, stomachaches and headaches.
. Acquired habits like nail-biting, thumb sucking, plucking hairs, eating candy.
. Emotional conflicts like trauma, fear, grief, phobias.
. Behavioural difficulties like tantrums, antisocial behaviour, telling lies.
. Special qualities like high sensitivity.
. Autism
. NLD, AD(H)D, PDD-NOS, dyslexia and dyscalculation

Contra Indications:
In case a contra-indication for this therapy such as a closed family system or returning psychosis is apparent, the child will be referred. When making an appointment it is important to be honest about the child/family situation, so we can discuss in which way we can best support your child.

Introduction to additional methods:

Energetic exercises
Energetic exercises work effectively for children which are very sensitive and can not only sense other people's atmosphere, but are also negatively influenced by this. Energetic exercises influence the energetic body and support children to protect themselves against too many impressions from the outside world. This improves their concentration and happiness. Children can do these exercises at home themselves or with their parents.

Visualization & imagination techniques
Imagination is a deepened state of consciousness in which you can deal with underlying traumas and /or limiting beliefs /restrictive convictions. These (emotional) blocks show up in the child's inner world in a symbolic way. When I work with children I often call this a healing adventure. It is healing because things can be experienced in the safe setting of their inner world. And once it has been resolved in their inside world, the child will also notice that things will get easier in the outside world. Children notice that they feel better after such an adventure.

Healing stories
I sometimes write a 'healing story' tailored to a specific child/issue. I use characters in this story which appeal to them, for example a favorite animal or favorite tv-figure.
In a therapeutic story we work with a child's issue in a symbolic way. Often children feel and experience things they cannot feel in real life as this puts too much pressure on them. Parents who read the 'healing story' to their child often notice a behavioral change.

Arts therapy
While drawing/painting/modeling etc. children can resolve their negative feelings. While working with specific material we talk together and emotions are dealt with through the drawing. Drawing/Painting can also help to gain insight in the child's inner world.

Copyright text and photos Yvonne Weeseman (p)© 2016