Experiential Play Therapy

There are several forms and theories within the play therapy sector.  We chose Experiential Play for the interaction between the child and therapist and the results of the therapy.

Experiential Play Therapy 

Play is the natural language of children.  When adults have a problem they vent to friends and family, talk to coworkers, or they might even seek professional help through the form of talk therapy.  When children have a problem, they usually do not have the verbal skills needed to openly talk with someone about their problem.  Often times children do not even have the cognitive ability to verbalize that they have a problem.  Children can express their problems through their play, which they do every day.

Experiential Play Therapy was developed by Doctors Byron and Carol Norton of Greeley, Colorado.

We completed an intensive training directed by the Nortons, thus beginning our journey in Experiential Play Therapy.  We then continued to earn our credentialing as Registered Play Therapist-Supervisors (RPT-S), which is the highest credential one may earn from the Association for Play Therapy (APT). APT is the largest international professional association for play therapists. According to APT, RPT-Ss are licensed or certified practitioners who have earned a Master’s degree or higher mental health degree, 174 or more hours of specialized play therapy training, substantial clinical and play therapy experience and supervision, and at least 36 hours of continuing education during subsequent three-year renewal cycles.  We have also earned our Experiential Play Therapist/Supervisor status through the Center for Experiential Play Therapy and Rose is also serving on their board. Stephanie is currently pursuing her training as a new Experiential Play practitioner.

We continue to participate in group consultation and supervision with the Nortons.  We have seen the true affects, benefits, and results this model offers to children.  It is a very complex theory that is centered on the child and meets them where they are emotionally and developmentally.  This child directed model of play continues to be the premier treatment modality for behavioral and mental health issues.

In Experiential Play Therapy, the therapist is trained to play with children while understanding the metaphors in their play.  It is a hands on therapy in which the therapist is part of the play and is directed by the child.  Often, the therapist is given a role or a character in the child’s play, while understanding the language of play.

Experiential Play Therapy has been proven to benefit children with a variety of issues such as:

  • Behavior problems
  • Anger
  • Tantrums
  • Defiance and arguing
  • Sibling and peer/social difficulties
  • Academic concerns and learning disabilities
  • Separation from parents (divorce, foster care, adoption)
  • Attention deficit disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bullying
  • Trauma
  • Reactive attachment disorder
  • Physical, emotional, sexual abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Grief and loss
  • Identity issues
  • Autism
  • Selective mutism