Dr. Ann

Play Therapy

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation"                                                                                                                                                                                                 ...Plato

I use play therapy with children and families. It is a natural medium for children and allows me to meet them where they are. My playroom has every kind of play material imaginable, including balls, bats, houses, games, clay, art materials, water, sand, nature items family and animal figures and dolls. It is a room where children feel very comfortable because they recognize it as a safe place to be and it feels very familiar. 

Young children particularly do not readily hold a conversation to express their worries as adults do. They do not have the vocabulary to do so, but they will play out their fears and concerns if the environment is provided for them.  My role is as a facilitator and extender of play, sometimes a playmate, but more often an observer. Children talk to accompany their actions so I become a very good listener. 

Sand Tray Therapy

In my play room I have several sand trays and many, many miniatures.  "Sand tray work allows individuals and children to access the non-verbal experiences and inner wisdom in their own language of action and images, in a process which remains under their control." (L. Hunter, 1998, pg 40) 

Since the sand trays are small and the objects are miniature ones, working on problems in their lives and in their relationships is not so scary as it otherwise might be. Sand tray work is usually silent. I act as the observer and also as a container of the action. The dialogue can be silent between the player and the play.  I carefully observe what and how objects are used. There is always a story that is part of the sand tray which we may or may not discuss.

I often take pictures of the sand trays when they are done so that we have a record of progress over time. Through self discovery and working through of difficult aspects of the player’s life, there is an ultimate goal of achieving a more positive self concept.

“ I talked lots about everything that happened, but here I have been very quiet. I’ve been thinking. Thinking is hard coz no one hears you, but this sand picture is sort of a thinking picture, isn’t it, and you can see it out loud.”            
…Australian boy quoted by G. De Dominico, 1988:1

For more information, call Dr. Ann at 909.398.1984.