Using Play Therapy as a Tool to Help Children Recover from Divorce


It can be hard for parents to determine how their preschoolers are coping after a Pasadena divorce, simply because young children lack the capacity to verbally express their emotions. For this reason, play therapy is often recommended as a way to help kids cope with the end of their parents' marriage.

At first glance, a play therapy room probably looks much like your child's room at home. There are lots of toys, including dolls, stuffed animals, blocks, and art supplies. The child is expected to play with these items either on his own or cooperatively with the therapist. Open ended play with lots of opportunity for role playing and personal expression is the hallmark of a play therapy session.

During play therapy, the therapist looks for patterns in the child's behavior. For example, leaving one parent out of a family picture could indicate that the child feels abandoned by that parent. On a similar note, a child who makes the mother and father dolls in a dollhouse argue loudly with each other while the child doll is hiding could be trying to express that she feels frightened by the conflict in her parents' relationship.

Play therapy sessions progress fairly slowly. Most children require at least three sessions to feel comfortable with the therapist, so parents should not expect to find an immediate answer to what is bothering their son or daughter. In addition to helping children who are having trouble adjusting to their parents' divorce, play therapy is sometimes used to help kids struggling with grief or recovering from abuse. Some play therapists will work with children who have diagnosed disabilities as well.

If you are looking for a play therapist to help your family move forward after your divorce in Pasadena, please keep in mind that a registered play therapist has to have 150 hours of play therapy training and spend at least two years working under the supervision of a play therapist before seeing children independently. Checking your therapist's credentials is crucial to making sure your child gets the help he needs.