From our many years of working with children, we know that their gains in therapy are enhanced and guided by parental involvement. To support this involvement, we schedule at least two “intake” sessions with each child’s parent(s) before therapy begins. These first sessions provide the time for parents to ask questions and to discuss the nature and history of their concerns. These conversations also help the therapist get to know the child’s family, their values and their styles of communication. Together, parents and therapists will agree on their weekly appointment schedule—so that each child comes to Jumping Mouse every week at the same time with the same therapist.
Tools for healing
Therapy rooms at Jumping Mouse come with an array of games, toys and art supplies. There are trays full of sand and shelves full of miniature figures of animals, people, vehicles, trees and many other things kids can use to create “sand pictures.” All of these games and toys will become their tools in a process of healing.
Before participating in therapeutic activities, each child must first build a trusting relationship with her therapist. The task of the play therapist is to learn how a child has made sense of her world and her experiences. Sometimes a child will use toys to express feelings that he cannot otherwise verbalize. Older children may do more verbal problem-solving, while the play dynamic remains available through sand, art and other creative materials. As children’s perceptions are revealed in this safe place, our therapists help them find healthier ways to view the world and themselves, while integrating potentially painful experiences and thoughts.
Progress through time
Parents often ask, “How long will this take?” It’s difficult to put time parameters on play therapy. For a child to know that his therapist is trustworthy, and to go into his own questions of “How come I was hurt like that?” or “Why did daddy move away?” takes time, courage and understanding. Monthly meetings with each child’s parent(s) will help the adult(s) track this process.