What is Play Therapy?

Hello, my name is Briana Halse.  I am the Clinical Coordinator at The Compass Center and The Compass Center’s Registered Play Therapist.  In this post, I am going to share with you a little information about play therapy, the play therapy services at The Compass Center, and what it would look like to pursue services with us!

Children do not always have verbal capabilities to express feelings of stress and may express themselves through undesirable behaviors. These behaviors can be mistaken for misbehavior or defiance when in reality, the child is doing their best to communicate how they feel even though it may cause problems within their home or school environment.

First, what is play therapy?  Play therapy is a form of therapy for children between the ages of 3-12 years old.  The belief behind play therapy is that children don’t always have the verbal or cognitive abilities to process information, so they use their primary language to do this—they play.

What is a Registered Play Therapist, you may ask? A Registered Play Therapist is an individual who is a licensed mental health professional (licensed professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, social worker, etc.), who completed additional play therapy specific training, client contact hours, and supervision to receive this certification.

At the Compass Center, play therapy services are provided to primary and secondary survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault at no cost for the child.  Play therapy services at the Compass Center are not intended to determine parental fitness, custody, or other legal issues, but to support the child and come alongside them to process the trauma they may have or are currently experiencing.

How do you pursue play therapy services at The Compass Center?

Step 1: Contact The Compass Center at 605-339-0116 and request for your child to be screened.

Step 2: A Compass Center staff will make contact with you to be screened for services.  Depending on the number of children you are seeking play therapy services for and the amount of information you share, this screening can take around 30-45 minutes. The purpose of the screening to gather helpful information to determine whether or not the Compass Center is the best place for your child to receive services.

Step 3: After completing the play therapy screening, your child will be added to the waitlist.  The waitlist can vary due to the amount of individuals seeking services at that time.  The Compass Center staff will do their best to keep you informed of the time-frame until your child receives services.  If your child requires services more urgently that The Compass Center can provide, staff will provide a list of referrals for your child to get the support they need.

Step 4: Once the counselor for your child is ready to add them to their caseload, a Compass Center staff will reach out to you to provide new client paperwork and schedule an initial parent meeting.  If your child is under 12, we request that the child is not present during this meeting due to reviewing paperwork and other “boring stuff.”

At the time of this appointment, the counselor will request legal documentation showing that the parent or caregiver has the ability to consent to treatment (e.g. birth certificate or most updated custody agreement).  The counselor will not make contact with your child until this documentation is receive.

Step 5: The counselor will schedule a play therapy appointment with your child!

The counselor will work with parent or caregiver on how to introduce counseling to their child and how to support their child throughout their journey to healing.

Pursuing counseling services for yourself or your child can be intimidating sometimes.  We at the Compass Center wanted to provide a little information to you so you could feel confident in pursuing services with us.  If you found this information helpful but still have more questions, no problem! You can reach out to us at the number listed above and a Compass Center staff will gladly help you find the answers that you need.