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Experience of Play Therapy?

(19 Posts)
GirlsWhoWearGlasses Sun 01-Jan-17 06:39:13

Happy New Year everyone!

I was wondering if anyone has experience of their DC accessing Play Therapy? We are considering the possibility for DD, but are slightly concerned about the attachment impact of the relationship between DD and the therapist.

Any thoughts or experiences?

Hels20 Sun 01-Jan-17 11:28:44

I hadn't thought about the attachment impact - perhaps I should have. Do you mean that the play therapist will form an attachment with your DD and then of course it will end when the theraplay ends and that might have a negative impact?

In answer to your question - DS is currently going through play therapy with an adoption specialist. We have had a torrid 6 months and so we bit the bullet and are doing it. Only 4 sessions into a 16 session programme - but I will be present at the theraplay sessions when it is her and him. He will have six sessions with the therapist but with me sitting in the room (the others are about educating us, giving feedback etc) and they will last about 30 to 40 mins.

RatherBeIndoors Sun 01-Jan-17 11:35:46

An adoption-experienced play therapist should be able to guide this - we had some where the therapist was very concerned LO didn't have another adult (the therapist) to interact and potentially bond with who would then seem to be "lost" when the therapy ended. So they suggested having alternate sessions where in session A they would teach me techniques without LO there, and in session B they would film me using the techniques with LO, and guide me gently as needed but not interact with LO. Then in the next session A we'd watch the film clips back and learn from them IYSWIM? I was dubious but it was really effective and put mine and LO's relationship at the very centre of the healing process. It also gave me a lot if confidence to continue therapeutic games etc at home. LO was quite young. I can see with an older child they might need a private talking space, but it was right for us at the time.

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Sun 01-Jan-17 12:21:33

Thanks for the replies. Our concern is that DD can be a bit quick to try to interact with other adults. It's better than it was, but can flare up when we're away from home etc. We're a bit worried that the therapeutic relationship could undermine the work we've done to build a healthy(ish) attachment. I do also think she'd struggle at the end of the sessions.

I already do a lot of therapeutic play with DD but we are wondering if she needs this separately to her relationship with us, for example, is it particularly healthy for me to be roleplaying being a BM who couldn't meet her needs?

Hels20 Sun 01-Jan-17 14:21:11

Found my list of what we are doing each session and it is very similar to RatherBeIndoors - ie one session with therapist and my DS and 5 or 6 with me but with therapist videoing our session and then going over it with me.

Kr1stina Sun 01-Jan-17 16:57:36

Girls - maybe one of you could sit in on the therapy sessions?

I agree that the implications for attachment should be carefully considered and I agree that there's no point in any therapy that's fundamentally based on developing a trusting relationship with the therapist.

Kr1stina Sun 01-Jan-17 16:59:51

Sorry that wasn't clear. I mean that if they are not willing to work the way Rather suggests, they might work directly with DD but have you there in the room.

Italiangreyhound Sun 01-Jan-17 18:06:38

Can I ask roughly what she your children are? girls and the others commenting?

Italiangreyhound Sun 01-Jan-17 18:28:50

age not she!

Italiangreyhound Sun 01-Jan-17 18:56:19

GirlsWhoWearGlasses I will tell you about our experiences and you can see if your area has this on offer as I think it is brilliant!

Our son has been with us 2.5 years. After 2 years many things had improved in his behaviour, ability to do things etc. The one area he still had major issues was the area of getting really angry at changes to things like going from being in bed to getting up, going from watching TV to turning off the TV, not eating dinner to getting up the table to eat dinner and the BIGGEST ONE my picking him up from school.

We'd had attachment help and things had gone well but this one area of 'difficulty' remained. He was fine going into school, church activities, play dates with friends (with me, and even once without me!) etc, all fine.

We asked for more help from post adoption support and I think I either mentioned theraplay or they did, and so theraplay it was. We had a sort of meet and greet assessment at home with the play therapist, the post adoption support person, our son, our birth dd, me and dh. Then we started…

The structure we have is this - a round of theraplay cycles’ (my word), which are about five sessions each and we will have three cycles. The sessions where we actually do the games with our son are filmed.

The cycles work like this…
-One session of me and play therapist (no ds) so she can explain games etc (first one dh came too).
-Three sessions of me and ds with play therapist, we do games together but focus is on me and ds doing games - eye contact (balloon games), appropriate touch (e.g. pretending to make a pizza on someone’s back, putting on lotion/putting talcum powder on hands and looking and lines on our skin etc), very safe tug of war type games which are loaded towards him winning, swinging him in a blanket like a baby (he is 6 and loves this)
-One feedback session where me and dh meet with play therapist and she tells us how things have gone and shows us video footage.

This has all been at a centre. And the cycle of five sessions takes about 12 weeks, so the three cycles will take around 10 months.

It has worked brilliantly. He is still emotional and gets angry but his outbursts have reduced y about a third.

Ask me anything you like, except my dress size!

Italiangreyhound Sun 01-Jan-17 18:57:12

girls, "...or example, is it particularly healthy for me to be roleplaying being a BM who couldn't meet her needs?"

Has someone suggested this? It sounds very unusual to me.

PoppyStellar Sun 01-Jan-17 19:28:26

Me and DD are due to start some theraplay soon and the way it has been explained to me is very much as Italian has described. My post adoption support SW has said that the focus is different to traditional play therapy in that it's about me and DD rather than therapist and DD if that makes sense. The focus, as far as I understand it without having actually started it yet, is on strengthening the attachment between DD and me through play. Like you I was concerned about the possible impact of DD having to 'bond' with a therapist but my SW reassured me this is not how theraplay works.

Italiangreyhound Sun 01-Jan-17 19:41:51

Exactly Poppy. It's about you and your child. The play therapist is there to facilitate.

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Sun 01-Jan-17 21:19:58

Thanks all. I think perhaps I haven't been clear enough that we're talking about Play Therapy rather than therapeutic play. We do quite a lot of therapeutic play, which is what a few people have described.

On the roleplay thing. DD directs play in this way and it's been suggested that it's not ideal for me to be acting this out as part of therapeutic play, that I should just focus on being her mum rather than trying to be her therapist as well, that she could do with someone separate to work all that through with.

It's hard. It feels like a risk and possibly counterintuitive, but she needs, I don't know, something.

Italiangreyhound Sun 01-Jan-17 22:51:30

Would you consider Theraplay as described above? As well as whatever else you are doing? Would this be offered?

What is play therapy as you experience it, if you don't mind my asking? And how old, roughly is your dd?

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Mon 02-Jan-17 06:40:25

Sorry, I should have defined the difference. Theraplay or therapeutic play focuses on supporting parents in learning or improving directive techniques which promote attachment and bonding with their child. I have previously been trained in this and we practice it a fair bit.

Play Therapy is a block of sessions just with the child and therapist where the child plays non-directively with whatever they like in the playroom.

I am interested that others seem to be saying they would also have concerns.

Nuzza Mon 02-Jan-17 15:06:31

Our LO (now 8) has been seeing an excellent therapist for a year - there's a lot of play in what she does though also a fair amount of talking. From my very amateurish observations, looking on, it seems as though the undirected play part is maybe a bit more diagnostic - it brings up thoughts and fears etc from LO, which the therapist then works on in more talking or theraplay ways.

From an attachment point of view it has only been good - I would say our LO's attachment to her therapist is similar to her attachment to her class teacher. The therapist often mentions other children in a very general way (eg 'Some of the kids who come to see me find it helpful to try this...') so I don't think there's any impression of an exclusive relationship, and she always brings in me and/or DH for the end of the session and they explain together what they've done (presented in a way that's very affirming of both LO herself and our relationship), or less often she has us sit in throughout. Previously LO saw a different therapist who did less talking, more just undirected play, but that therapist would also often have us sit in on the sessions, and would allow LO to draw us into the playing.

Both therapists have been people who mostly work in the child welfare system though, so adopted children and attachment issues are their expertise - I think I'd be worried about seeing a therapist who didn't have much of that experience.

Italiangreyhound Mon 02-Jan-17 22:18:47

Girls "Play Therapy is a block of sessions just with the child and therapist where the child plays non-directively with whatever they like in the playroom.

I am interested that others seem to be saying they would also have concerns."

I have no experience of this so I cannot say.

But the idea of you 'role playing' your child's abusive birth mum, which you mentioned, I think, just doesn't sound great and I would take professional advice on this.

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Tue 03-Jan-17 06:47:01

Nuzza the likening to the class teacher analogy is really useful.

Italian and generally, does no-one elses DC roleplay as part of what I presume is figuring out their lifestory? When DD is in the mood she acts out being in my tummy, BM not being able to meet her needs, then she's at her FCs, then her forever mummies come and take her home. Is that odd? Oh dear.

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