Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota
I believe that the Trail Baboons are a pretty playful bunch, so I thought they might find interesting my tools of the trade as a play therapist.
I am the only therapist at my agency who feels comfortable working with children under the age of 10. At the present time, the waiting list to see me for first appointments extends into September. I find that disturbing, but understandable, given that people don’t want to drive 90 miles to Bismarck for weekly appointments.
Husband is going to start working a second part time job as a therapist for Lutheran Social Services, and will work with children and adolescents, so I hope he can help fill a therapeutic void in our region.
I made a decision long ago that I would purchase all my toys, books, and materials myself, mainly
because I want to get the exact items I need and not have to depend on what might be in the agency budget at any particular time. The Association for Play Therapy has an annual conference and there are loads of vendors selling lots of toys, books, and games. I get what I can whenever I go. I also find lots of things at a local farm/ranch store.
Play therapy rooms need to have materials that allow for self expression and relate to the child’s everyday experience.
I am proud of my room, and I hope that the following photos will prove interesting to the Baboon community.
I have a jail, a school, a hospital, a fire station, a doll house, a kitchen area, baby dolls, a farm, and a sand tray.
I have a castle, human figures, animals, toy coffins and grave stones,miniature alcohol bottles, plastic turds, puppets, a puppet theatre, and costumes.
I have a doctor’s kit,toy guns and swords, and handcuffs.
I have books and therapeutic games. I also have a set of foam bowling pins with foam bowling balls (for irrational thoughts bowling, in which we tape an piece of paper inscribed with an irrational thought or fear on the pin, and bowl it over).
Generally, a toy is appropriate for a therapy room if it can be used to elicit feelings or help a child express feelings or tell their story. It is also important that, if thrown, the toy can’t hurt to therapist too badly.
You will notice in the photos that I have every few toys with commercial associations.
Those commercial links stifle creative play. Superheroes seem to transcend their commercial ties, and end up doing a wide variety of things in the play room.
I don’t see all my child clients in the play therapy room, mainly those age 8 and younger. My therapeutic interventions involve non-directive play, in which I make reflective statements about the child’s actions and behavior, or more directive play when there are specific issues that a child has to deal with and I more actively organize the session.
The large purple doll figure is named Meebie. It has a variety of Velcro-backed facial features and things like teardrops and broken hearts that children can use to display all sorts of faces and feelings.
The pure white cloth doll figure, called a Blanco doll, can be drawn on with washable markers and comes clean in the washing machine.
The large wooden chest is for anything in the room that is scary and needs to be locked up.
I have a new doll house. This one has two stair cases. My old one was very grand but the children were upset that there were no stairs. No one ever wanted my suggestion that they could pretend there were stairs. My new doll house, with stairs, is getting a lot of use.
None of my American Indian clients want to play with the Indian figures. I am still trying to figure that out.
The sand tray is really popular. I get the sand from a guy in Utah who sells beautiful sand in different colors and textures. I use the sand tray for general free play as well as to have children use the miniatures and other objects to show me what their world is like and how they would like their world to be. Sand tray therapy is widely used by Jungian therapists with adults as well as children, and there are hundreds of miniatures that these therapists use.
I found the scared and horrified figures at a recent play therapy convention. Kids really relate to them and use them in the sand tray.
I have lots of animal figures, wild, domestic, and fantastical. The animals are in family groups, with adult and young members.
Some people refuse to have toy weapons in their play rooms. I don’t think banning them from the play room is realistic.
The large wooden structure gets used a lot as a safe place or as a home.
I like the guy with the chain saw. He is so Freudian with the position of the saw!
What are the tools of your trade?