Play Therapy | Kay Trotter

By Appointment : Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm & Saturday 8am to Noon
  Contact : (214) 499-0396

All Posts Tagged: Play Therapy

Sandtray Therapy can be transformative

Sandtray therapyUsing Sandtray miniatures to create genograms can be a transformative therapy for all clients of all ages.

Sandtray Genograms allows the clinician and client to gain awareness about the effects of family relationships on client’s choices and feelings as well as how family dynamics affect the healing process.

SANDTRAY GENOGRAMS CAN:

  • Facilitate processing of family dynamics.
  • Introduces to clients to a playful, fun activity that will allow increased awareness about the choices and feelings one experiences related to one’s family.
  • Identify & utilize effective therapy prompts to help clients gain awareness.Enhance multicultural sensitivity as the clinician can more clearly see the culture and cultural issues in the client’s miniature selection.

SANDTRAY THERAPY

Is designed to help clients express feelings. Sandtray is a “hands-on,” expressive psychotherapeutic approach that translates personal experience into a concrete, three-dimensional form. Using a tray of sand, water, and miniature figurines, clients create and 3-dimensional scenes in the sand. Clients symbolically express thoughts, feelings and memories in a tangible, vivid, and  highly personalized way. The therapist uses the client’s sandtray scene as a springboard for further elaboration of emotions and their causes. As with all counseling the therapist strives to provide unconditional positive regard, reflection of feelings in a nonjudgmental manner, displayed trust in the client’s capacity to work through issues to increase the client’s ability to cope with anxious feelings.

Read More

SuperHero Play Increases Self-Esteem

SuperHero

I just opened a box with new costumes for the play room: Doctor Scrubs, Superman, Wonder Women, Police Officer and Ninja. I am excited to see how the kids use them to play out their emotional conflicts.

Take Superman, for example. Clark Kent is a timid man, but with just a whirl and his special brand of magic, he becomes the all-powerful superhero with superhuman strength and ability. When a child participating in this type of fantasy they successfully boosts themselves from the timid shy Clark Kent to the status of an all-powerful superhuman. This relieves them of their feelings of inadequacy and allows them to discharge their feelings of aggression away from those adults in their life who are in control of them, thus keeping those relationships intact. The greater the imagination, the more elaborate and disguised the fantasies are and the greater the emotional relief and resolution of conflict.

How many times have we all seen young children battling the forces of evil and wondered why does he/she enjoy this so much?

Fantasy in the form of play allows children to build a world of imaginary characters and stories that play out current emotional conflicts in such a way that the emotions are expressed and resolved on a subconscious or unconscious level. Where children rise above themselves as they play, becoming more than their average selves.

In fantasy play, children are able to use abstract and representational thinking, allowing a bowl to become a hat, an empty pot to become a steamy aromatic soup, and a pile of pillows to become a boiling lava flow. This self-guided play requires planning, regulating, and negotiating.  In short, the act of “acting” strengthens the executive functions of the brain.

You can help by

  1. Creating a dressing up box and filling it with old clothes, scarves, jewellery, bags and hats that can be used for pretend play.
  2. Encouraging children to share their pretend play, but without interrupting the flow of play.
  3. Joining in! But let the child lead, through your responses: “Show me what you want me to do,” “What should I say?” or “What happens next?” “What happens now?” “What kind of teacher am I?” “You want me to put that on,” “Hmmm…,”

How does this help my child?

  1. How your child feels about themselves will make a significant difference in their behavior.
  2. As your child feels better about themselves they are able to discover their own strengths and assume greater self-responsibility as they take charge of daily life situations.
  3. How your child thinks, and how they performs in school are directly related to how they feels about themselves.
  4. When your child feels better about themselves, they will behave in more self-enhancing ways rather than self-defeating ways.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

You also might like these blog post by Dr Trotter

The Task of Childhood Development

Play Therapy with Young Children

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

Dr. Trotter’s Pinterest Boards

Additional Resources:

Superhero Play and Child Development

How superhero play supports learning

 

Read More

Coping with Grief at Christmas through Play

“I miss my sissy”

I have to share this photo and story from another play therapies friend of mine!

Molly wrote me telling me this story: A friend of mine lost her, then 16-year-old, daughter in a car accident one year ago. As the family is dealing with the pain of the loss at the holidays – this photo was taken today (Dec 23, 2013).

It is my friends older daughter who is 19, found in the home playing with their old toys (which the two were known to do often together.) I love this photo – it speaks VOLUMES to the power of play – at the angel the picture was taken, you can’t tell this is a 19-year-old young lady, but rather – I can see the child in her coming out, trying to feel connected to her lost sister as a way to cope with missing her at the Holidays.

In her words, she shared “I miss my sissy and this was the only way to feel more with her.”

Dr Kay Trotter Kaleidoscope Counseling

Through play a child communicates emotions & feelings

I would love to hear your stores on how you cope with grieve during the Christmas Holiday.

Please leave me your comment as this is the first Christmas with out my mom (Sue Sudekum 1932-2013) and I miss her very much. In fact I find that this Christmas I cry a lot and at the lease little thing too. As painful as this time is, it does bring my mom closer to me as I have been thinning and talking to her often.

Death and Grief Resources

Dealing with grief during the holidays

An encouraging word – for those who grief at Christmas 

Dr John Irvine helping children deal with grief at Christmas

More of Dr Kay’s blogs on Grief:

Grief and Loss

How to Comfort a Friend After a Death

Guiding Teens Through Loss

Invisible Wounds of Deeply Hurting Children

Read More

Dr Kay’s Playroom

Play therapists are uniquely trained to understand the content of children’s play. In the playroom, children can safely confront their problems and learn how to confine, define and master them.

Read More

Play Therapy for Children

4 Year Old Girl Playing With Blocks

IN HONOR OF THE FIRST DAY OF NATIONAL PLAY THERAPY AWARENESS WEEK 

Work with young children is important….Because research has shown that a child’s social and academic success can be greatly influenced by experiences from infancy and toddlerhood. Infant or toddlers who have identified with difficulties or has experienced trauma would benefit from Play Therapy.

It’s important that a trained play therapist work with young child and their parents or caregivers as early as possible is optimal—early intervention make a difference. Early intervention helps foster mental health development and future healthy relationships. Neuroscientist have identified that healthy care giving interactions with infants and toddles positively influence developments of the child’s brain that affects their behaviors throughout childhood and adult hood. Play therapy provides the framework needed for understanding the emotional needs of very young children and their caregivers.

“The job of early intervention is to support, facilitate, identify and guild on strengths that exist in the and for each child and family”

DID YOU KNOW THAT DR. KAY TROTTER DOES PLAY THERAPY WITH YOUNG CHILDREN? 

As a Registered Play Therapist and Supervisor Dr. Kay has extensive training in child development, parent-child attunement, play based interventions, parenting and of course play therapy techniques.

  • To find a Registered Play Therapist in your area or to find out learn more about Play Therapy visit the Association for Play Therapy.
  • To read the Play Therapy Meta Analysis “The Efficacy of Play Therapy and Filial Therapy with Children: Summary of the Meta-Analytic Findings” visit Center for Play Therapy.
  • Visit the Texas Association for Play Therapy site and “Make a Difference In Their Lives.”

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

Read More

Help your child develop an inner locus of control

Encouragement vs Praise

What’s the difference? And why does it matter in my parenting?

Guest Author: Child Specialist Lynn Louise Wonders is the Founder of Marietta Counseling for Children & Adults. In 2007 Lynn saw the need in the community for a counseling center that was child-friendly, with a primary focus on providing play therapy services for children as well as counseling services for teens, adults and couples and Marietta Counseling opened doors January 2008. Lynn served as Owner and Director of Therapy Services until 2012 and now serves as Consultant to Owner Cecelia Myers and provides play therapy supervision on-site to therapists at Marietta Counseling working toward RPT.  Lynn now has a solo private practice in East Cobb on Lower Roswell Rd. called Wonders Counseling Services, LLC where she provides therapy services, yoga and meditation instruction and professional training

QUESTION: I don’t get it. I keep seeing snip-its in magazines about how we should not say “good girl” or “good job” to our kids. I thought we were supposed to be helping them feel good about themselves as parents.

ANSWER: I like to help parents be very clear about their vision and purpose when considering how they interact with their children. We want kids to develop an intrinsic sense of worth and value rather than be dependent on extrinsic sources to boost their self esteem. More simply said, we want children to feel good about themselves from their own conclusions rather than be addicted to having their parents and teachers tell them how good they are. So, I recommend parents remove the words “good” and “bad” from their vocabulary to begin. I teach parents how to encourage and reflect rather than review and rate. Praise focuses on the product while encouragement focuses on the effort.  

Consider this scenario: Your child brings you a drawing she’s been working on at the dining room table and she says with a big smile on her face, “Mommy, look!” If you say, “Sweetie, that is beautiful! Good job!” you have just reviewed and rated your daughter’s product. If alternatively you say, “You spent a lot of time working on this. Look at all the colors you chose to use. I can tell by the smile on your face that you are very proud,” then you are reflecting the emotion (pride and pleasure with her own effort) she is presenting, reflecting back your observation of the effort she put forth and encouraging her to continue to work hard and to feel proud of herself.

Try telling your child, “Thank you for helping with the dishes. That was very helpful,” instead of, “Good job.” Next time your son takes out the garbage without having to be asked you might say, “You noticed the garbage can was getting full and you chose to bag it up and take it out without anyone asking you to. You’re realizing this is your house too and pitching in shows that you care about keeping things nice around here.”

An occasional pat on the back and “good job” is not at all ill-advised. In fact, every once in a while some praise in healthy doses can be a nice peppering of positive reinforcement. Day in and day out, however, parents are going to see a more lasting positive result, higher levels of self esteem, more motivation and initiative in your kids if you provide reflective encouragement rather than ratings and reviews.

You can read more about Lynn’s counseling center and the services they offer at www.mariettacounseling.com

Read More

How Parents Can Help Children Through Traumatic Events

By Rise VanFleet Guest Blogger. Rise VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC
Child/Family Psychologist
Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor
Certified Dog Behavior Consultant
In practice for nearly 40 years, with specialties in traumatic events, chronic medical illness, strenghening parent-child relationships (esp. Filial Therapy), and Animal Assisted Play Therapy. Author of dozens of books, manuals, chapters, and articles on play therapy, Filial Therapy, AAPT, and canine behavior.

Too often our world is shaken by traumatic events such as natural disasters (e.g., tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods), war, school and community violence, acts of terrorism, accidents, housefires, life-threatening illness, separations, loss of a pet, kidnappings, and so on. Such events can leave all of us feeling helpless, and children may be particularly reactive to events that make them feel unsafe. Children who are directly exposed to such events can become traumatized, and the emotional impact of trauma can last a very long time if it goes unnoticed. Some children are exposed to trauma indirectly through sensationalized or repetitive newscasts or by hearing and seeing others‘ emotional reactions, and there’s evidence that children can be traumatized by this indirect contact with trauma as well. It’s important that parents have information about trauma, its impact on children, and how to help their children understand and cope with these events.

When something traumatic occurs, it’s important to give children an honest but simple explanation of what happened. They are bound to hear about it through television, schoolmates, or overheard adult conversations, so it’s best if their parents or primary caregivers play an active role in helping them understand the event. It’s also important to reassure children that you, their parents, will do everything you can to keep them safe. Some children blame themselves when bad things happen, so parents need to tell them firmly that it’s not their fault.

Caregivers should limit children’s exposure to newscasts about traumatic events. Broadcasts are geared toward adults, and children may not have the reasoning abilities or coping mechanisms to deal with repeated views of people crying, buildings on fire, and so on. Although children’s programs often portray violence, the emotional tone of the news conveys its “reality” and children and adolescents can become extremely frightened, whether or not they show it. You need not restrict their exposure entirely, but screen carefully what they do see!

Children who are roughly 3 to 12 years of age, given the opportunity, will often play out scenes from a traumatic event. Sometimes older children will, too. For example, following a car accident, parents might see their children playing out car crashes and rescues with their toys. When parents see this, they might worry that it’s damaging somehow for the child to play out the traumatic situation. Actually, it’s often just the opposite: it can help the child cope better. Just as we adults need to talk with others after experiencing something frightening, sad, or devastating, children need to play through their feelings and reactions to the trauma. It can be very beneficial if parents allow their children to play this way while showing acceptance of the child’s feelings. To stop such play can cut off the child’s primary means of coping. Of course, children should be distracted to some other activity if they are playing in ways that are actually dangerous to themselves or others, or if the child is becoming obviously upset by the play. If a child constantly plays out the traumatic event and seems unable to think about anything else, then limits should be set on the amount of time spent playing out the traumatic events. (If children’s play appears to be upsetting the child further or if they seem “obsessed” with their trauma play, parents should consider a consult with a mental health professional, as these behaviors might signal that the child is already traumatized. If children’s play appears robotic and the child seems “not there” while playing, a consult is warranted as well.)

It’s important to permit children to talk about their reactions to a traumatic event when they want to. Although such conversations can be difficult, especially if we’re experiencing our own reactions to the trauma, they do help all of us in the long run. One of the worst things we can do is say to our children, “Don’t play that way.” or “Don’t talk about it–it’s over–let’s get on with things.” Denial of the child’s reactions can lead to larger problems later. While it’s important to let children express themselves, including their feelings of anger, sadness, or helplessness, it’s also important to help them focus on the positive aspects of trauma situations.   In the wake of many disasters, there are many amazing, touching stories of selfless acts, heroic deeds, and the very best of human caring coming from the most horrible of conditions.  Although we see some of the worst of humanity after traumatic events, we also see vastly more of the very best.  It’s important for our children to hear about them because it adds to children‘s sense of security, connections to other people, and hope for the future.

The natural tendency of children to play out the things that are happening around them is their way of trying to understand. Because they are PLAYING, it feels safer to them, and this is very important. Too much TALKING about scary events can actually scare children more. Some talking is important to give children some basic information and to answer their questions, but it is through their play that children, especially those under 12, have a real opportunity to understand what is going on. Throughout the world, children in war zones are seen “playing war.” Children play doctor or medical scenes when they or someone in their family has been ill or hospitalized. Aid workers noticed that children directly affected by the Oklahoma City Bombing were playing with small plastic dogs sniffing around in piles of blocks, much as real dogs were used to find survivors in the actual rubble. After September 11, children throughout the world were reported to be playing scenes of planes hitting buildings, firefighters and rescue, buildings crashing down, and even funeral themes. A boy in the U.K. played scenes of police officers arresting “bad guys” after the terrorist bombing of the London Underground. A girl from New Orleans who had been moved to a shelter after Hurricane Katrina involved several other children in play where she was the “Mama Alligator” who was trying to save her babies (the other children) from the “Cane” (hurricane).

Long after a traumatic event has occurred, parents should remain alert to any signs of trauma in their children. When children are traumatized, the effects may occur much later than expected. Sometimes traumatized children look quite “normal” on the surface after the event, and then experience post-traumatic symptoms weeks, months, or even years later. It’s fine for parents to ask their children what they’re thinking and feeling about the event from time to time, and then really listen to what they say. On the other hand, it’s best not to “bombard” children with questions about how they’re feeling or to hold lengthy discussions with them, as this might actually raise the children’s anxiety levels. It’s good for parents to share their own feelings of fear, sadness, anger about an event because it helps children see that these reactions are normal and can provide good coping models. (A caution, though: be sure that you share your feelings simply and don’t elaborate to a point that could frighten the child further. Always reassure them that you’ll keep them safe.)

One of the most beneficial things for children after a traumatic event is for their day-to-day environment to return to “normal” as quickly as possible. Getting back to some sort of daily “routine” can help kids feel safer and keep the traumatic event from becoming the only focus of their lives. This can be challenging following some disasters, but working toward as normal an environment as possible under the circumstances can help. Parents can help children find a balance between playing/talking about the event and doing daily tasks and other types of activities.

When trauma has been caused by humans, as in terrorism, it is important for children and adults alike to remember that we gain strength from our human connections and that most people are good. Broad, angry statements about other ethnic groups can add to children’s sense of insecurity and promote prejudice and uninformed backlash effects. People throughout the world have struggled for a long time with our “differences,” and that struggle continues. Acts of terror are intended to divide us, and we can resist this and help our children feel much safer by teaching them that these bad deeds are the work of individuals (or small groups of individuals) and not of any broad ethnic, racial, religious, or other group.

Many children are quite resilient when dealing with traumatic events, but it’s good for parents to know what to look for when their child might be struggling. Here are some signs that your child might be experiencing post-traumatic problems:

  • anxious, “edgy”, nervous, agitated
  • difficulty concentrating
  • refuses to go to school; difficulty with schoolwork
  • becomes angry quickly
  • aggressive, either verbally or physically
  • nightmares, or repetitive nightmares
  • won’t sleep in his/her own bed; sleeps on floor or wants to sleep with parents
  • easily startled by noises or situations similar to the traumatic event
  • reverts to “younger-age” behaviors like bedwetting, nail biting, thumbsucking
  • won’t talk about what happened
  • talks excessively about what happened
  • becomes very dependent–clings to parents or other caretakers; fears separations
  • problems with friendships and siblings–seems aloof or argues
  • seems “different” than he/she did before; personality seems a bit different

Although these signs might be related to other things, if the signs persist, are intense, are different following the trauma, or if several occur for your child, it could be a sign of a traumatic reaction. If you or your children experience continuing distress that interferes with your day-to-day work, school, and family life, you might consider consulting with a therapist.  The sooner a post-traumatic reaction is determined and treated, the better the outcome is likely to be for the child (or adults, too). A qualified mental health professional can help the child and the parents.

Play therapy can be very effective with traumatized children. The play gives them some “distance” from which to explore and deal with their feelings. Even teens and adults can benefit from treatments which involve play and art or other expressive interventions. Words can fail us when we experience intensely frightening events, and other means of expressing ourselves become necessary. Sometimes family play interventions can be very helpful. If you have questions or concerns about your child, contact a local mental health professional. Make sure that he or she has experience with trauma, and having a background in play therapy can be a big plus.

For information on finding play therapists who specialize in children please visit The Association for Play Therapy director at http://www.a4pt.org/directory.cfm.

Or contact your local and state psychological, social work, mental health counseling, crisis, medical, or school counseling associations or professionals can make referrals to adult therapists.

Please visit Rise VanFleet visit her web site “Family Enrichment & Play Therapy Center” for more great parenting articles and great resources. http://www.risevanfleet.com

Read More

SuperHero – Play Increases Self-Esteem

I just opened a box with new costumes for the play room: Doctor Scrubs, Superman, Wonder Women, Police Officer and Ninja. I am excited to see how the kids use them to play out their emotional conflicts.

Take Superman, for example. Clark Kent is a timid man, but with just a whirl and his special brand of magic, he becomes the all-powerful superhero with superhuman strength and ability. When a child participating in this type of fantasy they successfully boosts themselves from the timid shy Clark Kent to the status of an all-powerful superhuman. This relieves them of their feelings of inadequacy and allows them to discharge their feelings of aggression away from those adults in their life who are in control of them, thus keeping those relationships intact. The greater the imagination, the more elaborate and disguised the fantasies are and the greater the emotional relief and resolution of conflict.

How many times have we all seen young children battling the forces of evil and wondered why does he/she enjoy this so much?

Fantasy in the form of play allows children to build a world of imaginary characters and stories that play out current emotional conflicts in such a way that the emotions are expressed and resolved on a subconscious or unconscious level. Where children rise above themselves as they play, becoming more than their average selves.

In fantasy play, children are able to use abstract and representational thinking, allowing a bowl to become a hat, an empty pot to become a steamy aromatic soup, and a pile of pillows to become a boiling lava flow. This self-guided play requires planning, regulating, and negotiating.  In short, the act of “acting” strengthens the executive functions of the brain.

You can help by

  1. Creating a dressing up box and filling it with old clothes, scarves, jewellery, bags and hats that can be used for pretend play.
  2. Encouraging children to share their pretend play, but without interrupting the flow of play.
  3. Joining in! But let the child lead, through your responses: “Show me what you want me to do,” “What should I say?” or “What happens next?” “What happens now?” “What kind of teacher am I?” “You want me to put that on,” “Hmmm…,”

How does this help my child?

  1. How your child feels about themselves will make a significant difference in their behavior.
  2. As your child feels better about themselves they are able to discover their own strengths and assume greater self-responsibility as they take charge of daily life situations.
  3. How your child thinks, and how they performs in school are directly related to how they feels about themselves.
  4. When your child feels better about themselves, they will behave in more self-enhancing ways rather than self-defeating ways.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

 

Read More

Large-scale Natural Disasters are Scary for Children

Guest Author – Caelan K. Kuban, LMSW is the Program Director for The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children and Starr Training Institute. Caelan Kuban can be reached at ckuban@tlcinst.org.

Large-scale natural disasters, like the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, are scary for children. There is no doubt that in the past week children have been exposed to powerful media images of the scene. Surely many of the children you work with have either asked you or their parents questions about what happened. Many children also are fearful about whether or not something like the disaster in Japan could happen where they live.

Encourage parents and teachers to limit a child’s media exposure and to set aside time to answer questions and talk to children about the tragedy in Japan. It can be traumatizing to see graphic images over and over again. While adults often need to know what is going on as a way to calm their own anxieties, in doing so they overexpose children. Adults should wait to turn on CNN until their children are in bed. Most important is to reassure a child, focusing on their safety.

Younger children need to hear that the buildings in our country are safe and that mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, etc. love him and are here to keep him safe. Parents should spend extra time snuggling on the couch, reading books, or playing a game with children who are feeling scared. Sensory comforts such as these will be more helpful than anything we might say. However, be open to questions but don’t provide too much information that could become scary or overwhelming.

Older children may be curious about how and why natural disasters happen and if they ask, it is appropriate to explain things in more detail. If children express worries about the children in Japan, explain that there are many adults from around the world that are helping them.

While we can’t explain why random events happen and certainly can’t predict or control them, we can use them as an opportunity for teachable lessons like empathy, generosity and humanity.

TLC is pleased to provide the Japanese translation and colorful illustrations of our Brave Bart storybook to Tokyo Center for Play Therapy in Japan for distribution to professionals working with children in the aftermath of the disaster.

The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children on the WEB
www.starrtraining.org/tlc

Caelan Kuban can be reached at: ckuban@tlcinst.org.

Read More