FAQ Play Therapy

Your child is most capable of growing and healing when they feel safe. Our Nurse Psychotherapist is fluent in your child’s natural language of play and always begins by following your child’s lead. This approach helps calm the survival or emotional part of the brain. When children feel calm, they have greater access to the thinking part of their brain. They can utilize their inner resources better, develop new skills and gain insight into difficult emotions, behaviours and experiences.

Our family play therapy sessions are more than just joyful engagement. Each session is specially designed to enhance an active, emotional connection between you and your child. Attachment-based activities are selected with a focus on your child’s needs, and you will be fully supported in creating a successful, positive play experience. Healthy attachment helps your child understand the value of social relationships, while also shaping their view of themselves as worthy and lovable.

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A safe and trusting therapeutic relationship is formed with your child by following their lead in the play process, and skillfully reflecting their feelings, words and actions in a way that is nonjudgmental and accepting. Reflecting helps your child hear their own thoughts, encourages deeper thinking and shows them that efforts are being made to perceive the world as they see it.

Throughout the session, our Nurse Psychotherapist continually assesses your child’s mental, physical and emotional health. By staying attuned to their temperament, pacing, play themes and comfort level, our Nurse Psychotherapist finds opportunities to guide your child towards their treatment goals.

For instance, a child struggling with aggression might engage in hostile play between puppets. Following the child’s lead, we would reflect their emotions and behaviours, and enter into imaginative play if invited. If the child appears to be stuck in their play or becomes dysregulated, we might use another puppet to play out alternative forms of acting, modelling new skills and adaptive ways of thinking.

Our Nurse Psychotherapist also works closely with you on how to best support your child during and after therapy. This might include specific strategies you can practise at home, or guiding special activities between you and your child to ease the transition into therapy.

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Free play is essential to healthy development. However, when your child experiences stress that is beyond their capacity to deal with, they can get “stuck” in the play process. The safe, nonjudgmental presence and guidance of our trained therapist can help them move forward.

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If your child is displaying emotional or behavioural challenges, they might be struggling with a stressor beyond their capacity to deal with. Play therapy can help your child build essential life skills, such as perspective-taking, social skills, resilience, focus and problem solving. We have supported individuals with:

Anxiety

Autism Spectrum Disorder

ADHD

Anger/Aggression

Developmental Delays

Learning Disabilities

Sensory Processing Disorders

When a major life event or transition happens, “playing out” their feelings can help your child express tough emotions, gain insight and develop coping strategies. Play therapy can also strengthen relationships and support families experiencing:

Bullying

Parental divorce or separation

Traumatic stress after hospitalization

Adoption or foster care

Grief and loss

Phobia or anxiety related to medical procedures

A serious illness or new diagnosis within the family

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Our Nurse Psychotherapist has extensive clinical experience supporting children with complex health needs. She has training in CPR (healthcare provider level) and advanced clinical skills, including tracheostomy care, enteral feeding, supplemental oxygen support, airway management and emergency care response.

You are the expert in your child’s care and together with your multidisciplinary team, we can form a treatment plan that is safe, inclusive and developmentally-appropriate.

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Yes! Play therapy can help your child strengthen essential skills related to emotion regulation, social functioning and relationship connection. Your child might benefit from structured play therapy sessions that integrate behavioural therapy and relationship development. Each child is unique and we can work closely together on how to best meet your child’s needs.

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Yes! Your teenager might find play therapy less threatening, less intrusive or even less boring compared to traditional talk therapies. Creative and expressive arts such as music, drama, art, dance and sandtray therapy offer different mediums for your teen to express themselves. Engaging in these activities can be therapeutic in and of itself, but they can also facilitate more in-depth communication of the challenges they are facing.

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This will vary depending on your child’s unique needs, strengths and presenting concerns. Research demonstrates that optimal effects of play therapy treatment fall within 30 to 40 sessions, with beneficial outcomes emerging in as few as 10 to 16 sessions.

However, each situation is unique and together we can continue to reassess whether fewer or more sessions would most benefit your child.

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Our priority is the safety and well-being of your child. If your child begins to show signs of separation anxiety, our Nurse Psychotherapist will first attempt to connect with your child and validate their emotions. If appropriate, we may use play to redirect your child and support ways of coping. If your child becomes visibly upset and is seeking your comfort, we will invite you into play and continue the session using attachment-based activities aimed at enhancing the caregiver-child relationship. We may start future sessions with similar activities until your child feels more comfortable.

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The play therapy room is a safe space where your child is encouraged to be their true selves. It is common for aggressive behaviours and testing of limits to emerge during early sessions.

Limits are set on an as-needed basis in a way that is firm but warm. Instead of triggering shame, it’s important to us that your child feels heard, validated and supported in their capacity to regulate themselves. Specific strategies using movement, music and play are also integrated to help organize and regulate your child’s nervous system.

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Comfortable clothes to play in! Drinking water is allowed in the playroom but we encourage families to access our kitchen before or after session for any meals or snacks.

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Play therapy is not covered by government health insurance in Ontario. If you have extended health insurance, check with your provider’s coverage for Nursing Services or Psychotherapy Services offered by a Registered Nurse.

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Yes! Evidence shows that play therapy is an effective means for children to communicate and work through their challenges. You can access accurate, peer-reviewed research related to play therapy here.

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