For young children, play is the method by which they communicate most effectively. Children may be able to communicate verbally with parents, siblings, and friends to express simple concepts, but play is the method by which 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—they won’t 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 some issues if the child isn’t able to use play, as it is the main tool the child will use to resolve those issues.
In addition to being a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, the therapist at Encompass Mental Health is also a Registered Play Therapist and utilizes play therapy for any and all counseling services offered to children. The therapist recognizes that children need to use play in order to achieve the goals of the counseling process and creates a natural, non-threatening and supportive environment that involves play to help the child to achieve the goals that are necessary for his or her treatment.
The therapist will treat children as young as infants and is the only Registered Play Therapist in Sioux Falls that is willing to treat a child this young. This is because research indicates that birth to three years of age are the most important years of a child’s 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, the services at Encompass Mental Health can help!