Spero Counseling and Wellness Center Play Therapy

What is play therapy? 

Play therapy is an evidence-based type of therapy used with children of all ages.  Children are not always able to share and process their emotions, past traumas, and current problems like adults do.  Play is a child’s natural form of communication and something they use daily to make sense of their world. Play therapy allows the therapist to meet a child where they are. 

Benefits of Play Therapy 

  • build trust, mastery, and rapport 
  • increase problem-solving skills 
  • develop self-control
  • regulate emotions
  • reduces stress
  • develop healthy coping mechanisms
  • identify and express feelings in healthy ways 
  • elevate self-esteem
  • build positive relationships
  • process trauma in a safe environment.  
Play Therapy FAQ

What does a play therapy session look like? 

Play therapy may look like ordinary play time but it is much more than that.  Building a trusting relationship with the therapist in a safe environment is the primary goal.  As the bond between the client and therapist grows the child will become more creative and vocal as they explore their emotions in play.  A therapist will use observation and other techniques to gain insight into a child’s past trauma, relationships, presenting problems, mental health symptoms, and other needs that are present.


Can a parent/guardian attend sessions with their child?

We want you to be involved in your child’s treatment as you are the expert on your child! Research shows that a child will be more successful in therapy if the family is also involved.  The child will also feel supported to trust and build a bond with their therapist when a parent/guardian is supportive of this relationship.  For younger children, a child may be hesitant to attend a session alone and the therapist can work with the family to ensure everyone is comfortable when separating.  Please encourage your child to separate for sessions to allow them the chance to build rapport and strengthen their bond with the therapist.  


Parental involvement in therapy may look different for older children and teens.  It is important for a teen to feel they have a safe place to explore their thoughts and feelings, without their parents’ presence.  Your child’s therapist will include you in the assessment phase, treatment planning, and providing periodic updates.  Your child’s therapist may invite you to sessions with the child’s permission.  


How does confidentiality work with minors? 

Confidentiality between a client and therapist is a legal and ethical standard that we uphold, even when the client is a minor.  The only scenario in which counselor-client confidentiality can be broken is in situations that place the client or others in “serious and foreseeable harm” such as suicidal intent (Standard B.2.a. Of the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics). It is important for children to trust an adult with their difficult feelings and experiences. Sometimes children struggle to do that in front of their parent.


Does play therapy work with older kids and teens? 

Yes! Play therapy can work for all ages across the lifespan.  It may be difficult to get your older child or teenager to open up but our therapists use creative play therapy techniques to move past traditional talk therapy.  Some of the interventions used may include activities, games, art, yoga, relaxation techniques, music, nature, and sand-tray.  This approach allows an older child to feel safe and relaxed in a judgment-free zone as they indirectly explore their feelings, challenges, relationships, and learn healthy skills organically.  


How will my child’s needs be assessed?  

During the first couple of sessions, a therapist will be gathering information from the child and guardian to complete an assessment that includes but is not limited to presenting problems, mental health symptoms, risk behaviors, past trauma, medical information, family relationships, and dynamics.  A phone interview may be more appropriate for the therapist and guardian to complete so as to not share sensitive information in front of the child.  Your child’s therapist will communicate about this with you.  Once the assessment is complete the diagnosis, recommendations for treatment, and treatment goals will be shared with the client and guardian.  Typically a variety of treatment approaches will be used based on the client’s needs.  


How long will my child be in counseling? 

There is no timeline for healing, progress is not linear and looks different for each individual child. The therapist, guardian, and client will work together to reassess regularly and discuss progress.  


How do I communicate with my child’s therapist? 

If you would like to communicate with your child’s therapist please establish a time outside of your child’s session. This is best to allow the child to have their entire session devoted to them and to speak of any concerns without the child present.  You are welcome to call the office at (618) 242-6944 and leave a message but please allow 24-48 hours for the therapist to return your call.  


What are the expectations of the therapist working with my child? 

  • Your child’s therapist will attempt to be flexible with scheduling but please be aware that after-school appointments are in high demand and may not be available.  Please provide notice for cancellations and/or reschedule when possible. 
  • The parent/guardian and client are the experts of their life and we will work together to understand your needs and concerns.  
  • Regular communication with the parent/guardian.  


What are the expectations of the parent/guardian of the child?  

  • Consistent attendance will allow the child to make the most progress 
  • Regularly communicate with the therapist (see how to reach out in the above question)

“My FAVORITE thing about play therapy is just how much we can learn from kids, how much they are communicating with us when they are playing. And then maybe the most important thing is how incredibly healing that can be for a child to be with a trusted adult and have them listen and understand the feelings behind the behavior and just validate them. This is without a doubt my life’s work. I will forever be an advocate for my kids. Although they are small, they are mighty! And their voices deserve to be heard.”


Therapist & Assistant Program Manager

“As the Clinical Director, I love watching therapists experience the joy and satisfaction when their clients are making progress. Since getting our therapists trained in play therapy techniques, it is especially rewarding when the ” littles” have the opportunity to process hard things, using their language (play), and knowing the positive impact that will have on the rest of their lives.”



Director of Clinical Services

I love play therapy because it is a child’s natural way to process their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I have seen so many children find healing through play therapy!  As a therapist, I am so thankful to have these skills.  As a program manager, I am so proud of the work we are doing because it is such a needed resource in our communities.
Becca Chavez
Program Manager