For young children, play is the way they communicate most effectively. Children may be able to communicate verbally with parents, siblings, and friends to express simple concepts, but play is the way they do the majority of their complex communicating, as well as the way they learn and grow.
When children are experiencing a difficulty in their life—either a traumatic event or a behavioral problem that they can’t seem to manage—many may not be able to “talk it out” like an adult does. Children need play to be able to process experiences, demonstrate their understanding of the world, learn new skills and practice implementing those skills into their lives. So, it doesn’t make sense to place a child in counseling to resolve issues if the child isn’t able to use play, as it is the main tool the child will use to resolve those issues.
At Encompass Mental Health, we have a team comprised of Registered Play Therapists and play therapists in training under the supervision of a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor. We understand your child’s need for play as a way of communicating and are here to help you and your child take that first step towards a better life through play therapy.
When working with young children, we use play therapy as a way of assessing what is going on in the life of the child, communicating with the child, and intervening in order to make skill changes in the child’s day-to-day life. We believe that children need to use play in order to achieve the goals of the counseling process because play creates a natural, non-threatening and supportive environment that is developmentally appropriate for the child
Still have questions about Play Therapy and if it’s right for your child? Make sure to check out our frequently asked questions page.
Emily Learing, LMFT, RPT-S
I have experience treating children as young as infants and am one of the few Registered Play Therapist in Sioux Falls who is trained in infant and early childhood mental health, which is a focus on the mental health of children from birth until age 5. Research indicates that birth to three years of age are the most important years of a child’s postnatal development, and what happens in these three years of life have the strongest impact on who the child will become. Waiting until the child enters the school system to focus on social and emotional health means that the window of opportunity to have the most impact on this child has passed.
Whether the child is already showing signs of a developing problem—such as showing aggression at home or daycare, or having excessive difficulty separating from primary caregivers—or the child is simply at risk for developing a disorder because of certain risk factors in the child’s individual, family or child care environment, I am trained to help.
Give me a call so that we can discuss how I can help your young child overcome the challenges he or she is facing.
Holly Kelly, LPC, RPT
I have experience treating preschool-aged children and their families and am also one of the few Registered Play Therapists in Sioux Falls who is trained in early childhood mental health. I have completed the Level One training of Theraplay(r), an attachment-based therapy that directly works with repairing and strengthening the relationships between parents and children and have extensive experience working with children and adolescents who have experienced trauma.
If your child has experienced a significant stressor or trauma, has developed concerns related to trust and attachment with caregivers, or is showing signs of a behavioral disorder, I am trained to help you and your child through the process of play therapy.
Rachel Thyberg, CSW-PIP, RPT
I have experience providing play therapy to children from preschool to adolescence. I have completed training in Trauma-Focused CBT, an evidence-based treatment for children, adolescents and their family who have experienced trauma, and am seeking certification in Adlerian Play Therapy, a highly respected model of play therapy.
If your child has experienced a significant stressor or trauma, is experiencing challenges at school or at home, or is showing signs of a behavioral or emotional disorder, I am trained to provide play therapy that meets your child’s needs.
Caitlin Borges, CSW-PIP
I am currently receiving training and supervision to achieve my play therapist credential. I am especially passionate about using play-based interventions to assist children with developmental concerns or disabilities and have special training and experience working with children with Autism or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. I also enjoy helping children who are experiencing anxiety, difficulties with adjustment to life’s changes or showing behavioral challenges at school or home.
If you have concerns about your child’s development or have received a diagnosis of developmental delay or Autism Spectrum Disorder for your child, I am trained and here to help you and your child through play-based interventions.
Not sure if any of us are the right play therapist for your child? There are many mental health professionals in our community who offer “play therapy” without the specific training. Play therapy is more than just using toys when working with a child in counseling. When looking for a play therapist for your child, it’s important to seek out a professional who is trained in the field of mental health and is knowledgeable about child development and play therapy.
The Association for Play Therapy provides a registry of all the Registered Play Therapists in Sioux Falls. The individuals on this list have completed specific training requirements to hold the Registered Play Therapist credential, a national credential confirming training and continuing education in the mental health and play therapy fields.
If none of our play therapists seem right for you, check out this registry or give us a call. We are happy to help connect you with the right professional in our community who is the best fit for you and your child!