When creating my Play Therapy Kits for my clients, I wanted to make sure to provide solid structing so children and families knew what to expect and what they could (and could not do) with these kits. I knew I needed to set important boundaries and limits, and at the same time also establish permissiveness. I didn’t want families to feel anxious about holding and keeping the kits AND I didn’t want half of the items to make their way under beds, in personal toy collections, and in couch cushions.
This was a lesson learned when some young people got so excited about Play Therapy kits earlier on in virtual work that some of the items got used before the first session. AND I also learned that manila folders (that I sent out my first kits in waaaay back in March) weren’t as durable as I’d like.
To create that balance I wanted to express something like…”you may do almost anything with these toys during our time together, but you may not add these toys to your personal collection OR play with them between sessions”. Knowing exactly what to expect and structuring statements are essential for Child Centered Play Therapy and I wanted to carry some of those same principles over to the virtual Play Therapy kit.
I wanted these boundaries to re-create some of the things that were unique to my Play Therapy office, such as clients only playing with my specific toys for therapeutic purposes. I wanted to avoid any meaning attached to toys from prior play AND any play that might continue without the safety and security of the Play Therapy relationship.
Think along the lines of a client continuing a therapeutic theme after the camera shuts off and a sibling storming in and taking their toys OR a parent or sibling coming in and trying to direct the play. Even though we create rules and structure around this, it seemed to be a lot easier to achieve with the containment of the actual containers and several rules and boundaries about the Play Therapy kits.
I came up with three of what I thought the most frequently asked questions parents and children may want to know like “What if something breaks?” and “Can I play with these kits whenever I want?” and gave specific and clear answers. To create permissiveness I detail that just like in the Play Room toys may break, art supplies may get used, and the Play Dough will definitely dry up.
Ethically it was also important to me that clients not feel financially tied to the kits. Like if something breaks there is no pressure, need, or expectation to replace anything. Just like if equipment or toys break in the office (and they sure do) it is definitely an expense of doing business and I didn’t want clients (or let’s be honest their parents) to feel responsible in any way if that happened. AND I didn’t want that to trickle down to how they may play with the toys.
I also wanted to create an atmosphere of trust and discussed that I trust that clients will take good care of these kits while they are away. I also detailed out items that were included in the kit on the back incase an odd toy turned up here or there, it could make its way back into the kit.
Also, for practical reasons, I have a sneaking suspicion I may be keeping these kits for a while (through the pandemic and integrating back into office). It is likely that when clients transition I will need to re-stock kits and this list will help keep me sane regarding what needs to be added back…again definitely the Play Dough.
If you want to grab a copy of my Play Therapy Kit Bundle download your free copy HERE! The bundle includes a copy of the parent handout that orients to the kits with some rules, frequently asked questions, and an inventory kit. I laminated mine for durability.
I also included a copy of my graphics for numbering my kits AND the stickers I used to label the personal Play Therapy folders! The labels were printed on Avery 15264 Labels (3 1/3'' x 4'') BUT you can also print on paper and just tape onto folders too!
I have included both the PDF copies and editable. Sometimes with the editable the format can be off or fonts so make sure you have Century Gothic and Ink Free fonts.
Let me know how you are orienting your clients to Play Therapy kits – drop a comment below!
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I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC,