The THRIVE model takes into account a very important reality: Children don’t know what therapy IS because therapy is a very adult concept. Kids need therapy for KIDS!
Children’s brain development, verbal skills, impulse control, coping skills and reasoning abilities are immature and not the same as those of adults. Some see these as limitations . . . when in fact, using the competencies of childhood: fantasy, imagination, playfulness, curiosity and openness to learning are the best ways to help kids succeed.
Play therapists utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings (Gil, 1991).
By expressing themselves symbolically through toys in play therapy, children are able to distance themselves from difficult feelings and memories, which are frequently too hard for them to talk about directly with others. This gives children the opportunity to communicate their fears, worries, problems, wishes, and desires to others, even if it is done symbolically through toys. Other adults in children’s lives, such as play therapists and parents, can then get a better understanding of children’s inner worlds, which allows these adults to understand what children need in order to provide the appropriate type of help and support.
Play is the primary way that children…
- learn about the world
- understand how different things work
- express their thoughts and feelings
- develop their mental skills
- develop their physical skills
- develop effective social skills and bonds
- Encourages open & voluntary communication
- Builds trust & mastery
- Fosters learning and appropriate behaviors
- Promotes creative problem-solving
- Regulates emotions
- Reduces stress
- Elevates spirit & self-esteem
Play helps children:
- Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
- Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
- Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
- Learn to experience and express emotion.
- Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
- Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
- Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities
Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005).
Trauma-informed play therapy
Childhood trauma can affect children’s developmental growth. Left untreated, it can create significant problems in their functioning, particularly in areas of affective and behavioral regulation and relational interactions. For this reason, many young children with traumatic histories may be unable to establish or sustain important relationships.
Many children who present for treatment following acute interpersonal trauma have dysregulated systems, typically reflecting chronic instability at home and/or violence within the community. In some ways, it can feel like growing-up in a war zone. THRIVE therapists use play and creative arts interventions to address hyperarousal, soothe the brainstem, and facilitate self-regulation. Play (like the arts) is inherently fun, imaginative, and healing; using it skillfully with traumatized children can help them to self-regulate their affect and to feel safe in their bodies, homes, and communities once again. (language courtesy of Life is Good Playmakers www.lifeisgood.com)