Limited Availability (updated May 22)

Play Therapy Seattle

Play therapy is an evidence-based therapeutic treatment for children and teens with mental health symptoms and developmental, social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Play therapy began in psychological settings around the 1930s and has continued to evolve to assist children in feeling more comfortable to open up and express themselves through play activities as opposed to direct questioning of their problems and symptoms.

Girl smiling in virtual school

What is Play Therapy?

Play therapy is a space for children to express themselves through the use of toys, sculpture, arts and crafts, and physical movement, as opposed to traditional talk therapy which has been shown to feel intimidating and interrogative. Play therapy utilizes tailored developmentally and emotionally appropriate child-centered therapeutic techniques to assist kids in identifying, understanding, and working through their complicated and frustrating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Play therapists work with children to meet them where they are at and collaboratively build a trusting and supportive relationship to assist the child in developing and strengthening their social skills, emotional vocabulary, and independent resiliency. Play therapy works best with children and teens because play is their dominant form of self-expression.

play therapy

Activities We Do In Play Therapy

The activities used in play therapy depend on the child’s needs, interests, capabilities, and current stressors or symptoms. Typical activities involved in play therapy include:

  • board and card games
  • storytelling
  • role-playing
  • arts and crafts
  • sand tray
  • dance
  • creative movement
  • musical play

The play therapist will work with the child through different toys and games to observe and assess their ability to express and process their emotions, social situations, and availabilities to incorporate healthy coping skills. At times, play therapy will also work with children and families by involving other members in play to gain insight and understanding of relationships and home life and help to create conflict resolution strategies to improve family dynamics.

Siblings laughing on couch

Play Therapists in Seattle WA

Bonnie Irey

Therapist

Andi Eberhardt

Therapist

Play Therapy Interventions

Play therapists carefully select the toys and games that are in their offices to create specific interventions to assist children in navigating through difficult situations by building resilience through the development of coping skills and healthy acceptance.

  • Story-telling through dolls and action figures to act out stressful, troubling, or anxious situations that they have endured.
  • Emotion card games to identify, explore, and understand interwoven nature of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  • Using arts and crafts to show and tell relationships and roles of family, friends, teachers, and any other interpersonal relationships they may have
  • Board games to teach resiliency, sharing with others, patience, strategy skills, and problem-solving skills
  • Use of fidget toys to allow for healthy emotional and behavioral regulation
  • Mindfulness through breathing exercises like blowing bubbles, balloons, or smelling flowers

Sessions are conducted by Licensed Mental Health Counselors

Play therapy differs from regular play by its intention and application. Instead of simply playing board games, a registered Seattle-based play therapist will prompt the child to think about how their strategy and behaviors relate to how they handle situations outside of the office. Every play intervention and technique has a purpose, and will unfold a value, belief, or feeling for the kiddo to explore and strengthen. A licensed mental health counselor is trained to create a safe space for the child to process complicated and traumatic experiences and navigate through them with consistent non-judgmental empathy and patience. Licensed counselors earn a Master’s or higher degree in counseling psychology, social work, or marriage and family. Therapists may also receive training through the association for play therapy and continue to seek out training to be up to date with the latest research for effective exercises to support working with children through play.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is play therapy effective for children with autism?

Absolutely! Research shows that children with autism experience more frequent challenges in identifying, understanding, and navigating social settings than their neurotypical peers. Play can aid children with autism to move past self-absorption play at a comfortable pace so they do not feel judgment or pressure and move towards interacting and communicating with others. Play therapy works to incorporate skills to harness healthy social reciprocity, which are skills for sharing and taking turns in social settings.

Which issues are most commonly treated with play therapy?

Play therapy treats children experiencing social, emotional, and other behavioral issues and concerns. Play therapy can help a child who has difficulty expressing themselves, regulating big feelings and behaviors, experiencing anxiety about school, difficulty with belonging with peers, processing history of trauma, understanding transitions like adjusting to new siblings or healing from caregivers who are separating/divorcing, and many other difficult situations and experiences.

How is play therapy different from art therapy?

One of the best parts about play therapy is the ability to practice many other forms of child therapy through the process. Art therapy is a part of play therapy, but play uses so much more than art! Play therapy also utilizes music, movement, games, and more to work towards emotional and cognitive understanding and resiliency. Play uses metaphors and constructs social stories through action figures, dolls, cars, or any other toy to symbolize patterns of relationships and explore opportunities for agency in choice.

How many sessions do you recommend for my child?

Kiddos are primarily seen by a registered play therapist or mental health therapist in Seattle weekly or every other week depending on their severity of symptoms. The amount of sessions recommended is based on your child’s level of need and progress of growth. Unlike traditional talk therapy with adults, children may need more time to feel comfortable and safe to trust the therapist, which can add to the necessary amount of sessions for treatment. On average, research suggests that it takes about 20 play therapy sessions, or about six months, to resolve the problems indicated at intake.

Play Therapy Pricing

Therapy creates a space for you to experience healing and progress in a way that can change your life. But of course, it’s also an investment of both time and finances. When you’re ready to commit to healing and transformation, here is what you can expect.

Standard individual session
(55 minutes) $175

 

Insurance

We do not participate with any insurance panels. Anchor Light Therapy Collective is considered an out-of-network provider. 

As a courtesy to any individual clients who wish to utilize their insurance benefits, We are happy to verify your out-of-network plan benefits to tell you what portion, if any, may be covered by your health insurance provider. 

Out of Nework Insurance Options