What Does It Mean? Case Example of Themes Related to Asking for Toys and Three Questions to Help You Go Deeper
“Can you get me that?”
This is a seemingly simple question that in most cases the appropriate response is “absolutely!”
But in the playroom? Well…. It’s not so simple.
Last year one of my friends reached out to talk…about dinosaur poop.
Specifically what it might mean if during a play sequence a dinosaur pooped in a very specific way and the sequence was repeated over and over.
These are the exciting conversations play therapists get to have!
Child Centered Play Therapy can be one of the theories where imposter syndrome hits hard. As you enter the child’s play you do so with radical acceptance that you will never know 100% of what the child is playing out (even though you may have some excellent ideas).
And it makes sense that one of the most frequent questions I get asked from supervisees and consultees is “Am I even doing anything here?”. If this is a question you have check out more on that HERE!
If you are a play therapist you have likely wondered “what does this all mean” and you definitely have thought “am I even doing anything here?”
Okay - before you go any further, grab my FREE guide on how to identify play themes, dive deeper into how play therapy is different from “just playing”, and check out why I don’t believe any play is without a theme.
If you are a Child Centered Play Therapist or do non directive Play Therapy, you know that knowing exactly what each play sequence and move means is not essential to a child’s growth and progress in play therapy.
Additionally, if we are so focused on dissecting and analyzing everything in the moment it’s highly likely that we aren’t going to be present enough and hold the unconditional space children need for healing.
AND yet, I still think that finding, assessing, and getting curious about the meaning behind the play holds so much value in play therapy.
The tiger that attacks the house, you have to pay $500 for a hamburger and you don’t have the money, the queen getting dethroned, and you get thrown in jail because you robbed the bank.
These are things that pop up on a regular basis in the playroom. Ahh... all in a days work!
In Play Therapy sessions there is often a debate on play themes. Questions come up of “was that actually a play theme or were they just playing?”
And this question is an important one!
Being a child and teen therapist is definitely a juggling act. Managing the needs of the child and at the same time attending to the unique strengths and struggles of the caregiving system.
AND keeping all those balls in the air can be complex and stressful!
I wanted to share my top 10 tips, downloads, and resources for troubleshooting some of the biggest difficulties that may come up with parents and caregivers in child and adolescent therapy!
Troubleshooting parenting skills and difficulties are among the top questions and struggles that come up with Play Therapists and therapists that work with kids. Often it’s easier to know what to do in session than how to support parents and parenting outside of session.
If you struggle with this too - you're in the right place. Grab a cup of coffee, get cozy, and dive into 16 of my best resources, downloads, handouts, and skills for working with parents and caregiver systems!
When we are working with kids we are working with family systems.
And when we are working with family systems - we are working with emotional regulation and dysregulation. Nearly all the reasons that kids present in the playroom, including anxiety, trauma, anger, and depression are all at their core difficulties with regulation.
I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC,