Play Therapy For Young Children In South Orange County
Providing Play Therapy for children 0-6 years and their families .
Play is a child’s best way of communicating what is happening inside of them and parents gain a better understanding of their child when working with a child/play therapist.
Children have many feelings like adults do, but often they do not know how to verbalize what they are feeling. When you ask a child what they are feeling they often respond “I don’t know” and it is true, they don’t really know.
As a parent, it is important to reflect with your words what you think your child might be feeling and see if they agree with you or tell you they are feeling something different. Kids usually act out what they are feeling more than using their words and this is very frustrating for parents.
When feelings become overwhelming for children, they often show this in meltdowns. Young children have “big feelings” and want you as their parent to understand and comfort them. You can never spoil your child by comforting them and you make a big difference when you try to help them sort out what is going on inside of them. It may be that a friend hurt their feelings or they are struggling with feeling overwhelmed by a new environment such as school, a new sibling or a new activity. Anxiety is often a big contributor to children having tantrums and meltdowns and change is very hard for many children.
Play therapy helps children to express what is going on inside of them. My play therapy room is fun for kids and includes:
- Free play with a variety of toys
- Sand tray
- Dress Up
- Books about feelings and behaviors
I am a firm believer in having parents involved in play therapy sessions. Focusing on the relationship between a child and parent(s) is a priority in these sessions and I will guide you in how to continue these “special play times” at home. Play changes children’s behavior when a child feels connected and their parent is attuned to them. It is easy to become distracted with the business of life and daily demands but children love the time they get to play with their parents.
I believe that parents are an integral partner in the play therapy process and include parents as much as possible.
I am also trained in a special type of play therapy called Theraplay. (http://theraplay.org) Theraplay involves a lot of fun interactive games and activities between a parent and child that are led by the therapist. These involve bubbles, silly games, challenges, snacks and nurturing time. Theraplay is an evidence based intervention that aims to create more connection and joy between parents and children. When a child has become difficult to parent, or you feel at a loss of how to connect with your child then this approach is really helpful, especially with young children or adopted children. I will also often incorporate some of these activities in to a more child-led play therapy session with parents.
Play Therapy for Adoption
Theraplay is also proven to work with children who have been adopted from difficult backgrounds including international adoption. The fun games mimic what your child may have missed when they were a baby or young child in an orphanage or foster family. They may have never experienced much rocking, singing and holding and this feels foreign to them. My goal is to create a place where children feel seen, heard, loved and safe. This is often a new experience for children who have had challenging early life experiences and they often push their parents away. Through these activities, we disarm fear and help your child learn that they can connect and trust you as their parent.
Individual Play Therapy
Depending on what issues you are seeking help for, I may determine that individual play therapy sessions make sense for your child. This will be discussed in the initial parent meeting. Some children need to work through things without their parent present and respond better when their parent is not part of the play therapy session. If this is the case, I have parents wait in the waiting room across from my play room so children know that you are there and they can find you if needed. If I work more individually with your child then I will set up a parent meeting with you after a few sessions to discuss goals and progress in your child’s therapy.Depending on what issues you are seeking help for, I may determine that individual play therapy sessions make sense for your child. This will be discussed in the initial parent meeting. Some children need to work through things without their parent present and respond better when their parent is not part of the play therapy session. If this is the case, I have parents wait in the waiting room across from my play room so children know that you are there and they can find you if needed. If I work more individually with your child then I will set up a parent meeting with you after a few sessions to discuss goals and progress in your child’s therapy.
I am currently working with children 6 and under in play therapy. Some of the issues addressed in play therapy include:
● Toddler/Preschool Issues
● International Adoption
● Separation Anxiety
● Trauma, Grief and Loss
● Behavior Challenges/Tantrums
● Sensory Regulation Difficulties
● School/Relationship Stress
*If your family is going through a separation or divorce, I will refer you out to a therapist who specializes in this area and can help you navigate the unique challenges of co-parenting.
How Does My Child Begin Play Therapy With Malaika?
1) The first step in scheduling an appointment is to contact me through my contact page and schedule your free 20 minute phone consultation. This gives us an opportunity to speak with each other and find out if I am the right fit for you and your child. If I determine that I would not be a good fit for your specific circumstances then I will refer you to other trusted play therapists who I know can best help with your situation. I value this step as I want you to have the best experience in therapy and work with someone that specializes in your specific needs. If we both feel we are a good fit then the next step is to send you my paperwork.
2) The second step entails me emailing you a link to my confidential portal (HIPPA compliant) where you will fill out my initial paperwork and answer questions related to why you are seeking play therapy. This needs to be completed before we can have an initial meeting.
3) The first session is always an intake session with parents without the child. I will gather your family and child’s history and learn more about what is bringing you to therapy at this time. I will also give you resources and discuss any parenting concerns you may have. We will also discuss goals for therapy and my recommendation for how to proceed. The second session will be scheduled for the child to come in with you. My office is located at the corner of La Paz and Marguerite in the center of Mission Viejo and across from the Mission Viejo Library.
4) Therapy sessions are generally 50-55 minutes long and I usually meet with clients once per week. I am open to other arrangements such as every other week once we have met for a few sessions to determine what your child’s needs are. My fee is $150 per session and I provide a superbill for you to submit to your insurance for out of network coverage if desired. For more information visit my FAQ page.
“Imagination is where your child lives. When you play with him, you enter his world.”
Contact Me Today to schedule your Free 20 minute phone consultation
I’d love to find out how I can help you and if I’m the right therapist for you