What is Play Therapy?

As psychotherapists, our focus is in child development and play therapy. We use a playful and individualized approach to empower children to cooperate, self-regulate and effectively communicate their needs. Play therapy is most often used with children ages 3-12 and usually occurs in weekly sessions.  Some children’s behaviors may improve very quickly with play therapy (averaging 15-20 sessions), while others may have more serious or ongoing problems that may take longer to resolve. Play therapy works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is supportive and actively involved in the treatment process. Why Play Therapy? Developmentally, even the brightest children have not developed the capacity to use the insight-based verbal reasoning– which is needed to be successful in one-on-one talk therapy. What works in the world of play therapy is that it play can be used as a language by the child,  overcoming the challenge of more traditional language-based communication while still allowing the therapist to assess and respond to the underlying needs of the child-client. Also, because therapy sessions are child-centered, there is less resistance and often more rapid change than with talk therapy. Play therapy is different from regular “playdates” because in these specialized sessions, therapeutic space is created to allow the child-client to express, address, and resolve the challenges they have faced. Play provides a psychological distancing from a child’s issues and allows expression of thoughts and feelings– which is the process work of therapy. Through play, therapists can help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits. Children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and...

Workshop: Refining Strong Emotions

Refining Strong Emotion Passion, our energetic connection to this world and this life, is the source of our most inspired creativity and our noblest access.  From this wellspring flows the energy of our life and in our deepest clearest moments, we can access our finest moments.  But as we see in the flow of water, our passion, when constricted, often becomes rough and turbulent, with waves and rapids which can overwhelm us in our journey.  Within our body this can take the form of  Anxiety, Rage, Depression, and Fear.  In this six week workshop, we will roll up our sleeves and take a Zen approach toward working directly with strong emotion, getting past the stories and developing a set of practical skills to create a sense of flow as the water of life moves through us. Week One A basic toolset We begin with the the simple skills to recognize how emotions arise in the body, the shapes they take, and the choices we have in our relationship to them.  We’ll be expecting a little weather in our lives over the coming week and we will be ready to observe where the rain comes from and where the troubles arise.  When the water gets high, we’ll have a raft. Practical Skills: Zen Meditation, Loving Kindness Meditation, Three Breath Meditation. Week Two ABC and Gratitude Having paid close attention over the first week of our journey, we will have observed how the phenomenon of constriction, trying to move a lot of passion through a tight or blocked space, produces noise and vibration and potentially danger.  With our new knowledge, we...

What is PTSD?

PTSD is the acronym for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and refers to a cluster of symptoms that result from a past trauma. But what’s a trauma?. Trauma refers to a psychological or emotional imprint that occurs when an event or series events threatens our sense of safety or well-being to the extent that our minds react to protect us from any further exposure. In order to protect ourselves until we are either healthy enough or supported well enough to address issues from the past, sometimes, our experience or memory of a traumatizing event can be compartmentalized or stored away. PTSD can be diagnosed as soon as 30 days after an event or as long as 30 years or more after an event. The good news is that the healing process can begin at any...

EMDR Therapy and Trauma

Trauma survivors often complain of recurring nightmares, sudden tearfulness, flashbacks, aversions to places or people and even somatic/physical discomforts. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), is a technology created about 20 years ago by Francine Shapiro, PhD. EMDR involves systematically bringing highly charged images/experiences to the conscious self without hypnosis where they can be rationally dealt with and resolved into normal memory. This process is rapid and is noted in psychology journals as the most effective treatment available for...

A Soldier’s Unseen Wounds

A gun, a tank, a rocket launcher all make sense if you are a member of any of our armed services on a tour in the Middle East. They are necessary for the tasks that these men and women have been trained and, for better or worse, fit into the context of war. Just as a rifle is a tool with a specific design; the sight to hone in on a target, materials that resist wear and damage, a magazine to hold rounds to defend or attack, a trigger to engage the sole purpose of the tool. So too, can a mind be conditioned to serve a specific purpose to suite an environment and a context that can be imagined, practiced and realized in mission after mission. The difference is that the rifle is not expected to change purpose at the end of a tour. Whether in ‘that’ environment or another it maintains it’s function and form. We expect our servicemen and women to suddenly, and with little preparation or explanation to change context, change purpose, dial back intensity, leave the thousands of hours of training in the camps. If you are one of them. It may be one of most difficult experiences you have ever had, or will have. Feelings of detachment and isolation even when around familiar people, not feeling purposeful or needed, having a loss of direction and confusion about the future. These are all common to the returning soldier. Aside from the personal effects, behavioral issues compound the problem. Poor sleep patterns, rapid mood changes, aggression and irritability, depression and even panic attacks can all...

Anxiety Snapshot

One of my many reasons for working with individuals with Anxiety, Panic Attacks and PTSD is that they all carry a very good prognosis. Meaning that, when treated properly, we can expect positive results and we can expect them to last. When I hear of someone or meet someone who has suffered from long-term generalized anxiety or Panic Attacks I feel a sense of urgency to make changes early on. There is simply no reason why a person should suffer with either of these debilitating clusters of symptoms. Anxiety and Panic are expressions of a problem at a deeper level. Much like pain in the body, anxiety is a signal that something needs to change. Part of the work is discovering what change needs to occur, part of the work is finding behaviors to manage, reduce or eliminate the attacks/anxiety and part of the work is trusting the change that occurs over the long run. That being said, treatment approaches can involve emotional, behavioral, environmental, familial and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. While the work to minimize the suffering is primary, the secondary changes that occur in this exploration enrich every aspect a persons’ life. I work with individuals with problems with anxiety, PTSD, trauma as well as with couples and...
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