“Enter into children’s play and you will find the place where their minds, hearts, and souls meet.”
— VIRGINIA AXLINE —
We are here for you.
As a parent, all you want is for your child to be happy, get along with others and enjoy school, their friends and family and activities. At Embark Counseling, our child counselors are experts in child development, and provide you the peace of mind in supporting you with your child’s mental wellness needs, and your family throughout the therapy process. Our counselors use play therapy, and are open to discussing how they cultivate a relationship of comfort, trust, and good boundaries with the child, and the parents.
The child-counselor relationship is central to our integrative therapeutic approach with your child, where we commit to helping your child on their journey of healing and wellness. Our integrative approach, because of its flexible nature, has been proven useful for many mental health issues including depression, anxiety, past and present trauma, low self-esteem and fears; as well as for grief and loss.
The child counseling and play therapy approach allows us to use many different tools and resources to help families find the solution to their problems. A helpful counselor can usually engage a reluctant child, and help navigate difficult and complex family challenges. A good fit between the child and the counselor is not only about the counselor’s treatment approach or education or experience, but is also related to their ability to show their genuine interest in the child, willingness to listen and to understand the world as the child understands it, and a priority for supporting the child in their communication of their feelings with their parents, family members and other important people in their lives.
Our counselors are here to find your success in parenting and family life, and understand the root core of what is challenging your child. As Family Systems Therapists, we approach therapy with an integrative approach with regard for the entire family, and all of the systems that influence your child’s development, from a strengths-based and attachment perspective. The counselor will highlight the child’s strengths and will assist in the family’s understanding of the problem as an obstacle that needs functional strategies and solutions.
Reasons children come to counseling and play therapy.
We partner with families, in addition to child counseling and play therapy, to help children learn new skills and manage their big feelings related to the following issues:
Behavior problems (such as anger, aggression, acting out, opposition at home or school)
Peer or sibling problems, relationship difficulties
Learning, attention or social skill problems, ADHD
- Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sensory Processing or Highly Sensitive Children
Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, including sexual, physical or emotional abuse
Grief or Loss
Episodes of sadness, tearfulness or irritability
Difficulties in regulating mood
Changes in appetite or sleep
Social withdrawal or isolation
Fearful behavior that results in avoidance or gets in the way of healthy development
Problems adjusting to transitions (following separation, divorce, move)
Obsessions or compulsions
Experiencing bullying, or bullying other children
Excessive school absenteeism or tardiness
Development of or an increase in physical complaints (such as headaches, stomach aches or “not feeling good”) despite a normal physical exam by your doctor
Management of a serious, acute or chronic illness
Signs of destructive behavior, such as head-banging, cutting or risk taking
Thoughts of death, suicide, or losing a peer or loved one to suicide
Our approaches to your child’s therapy.
A Play Therapist will use play to help children and teens to communicate in their most natural language…PLAY! Just like adults, children need help coping with and explaining their feelings, concerns and experiences. Adults usually use talk therapy to communicate and process how they are feeling, but children communicate and express themselves more easily through play. Play Therapists have been through additional extensive training and supervision to learn how to interpret the meaning of the play of children and teens by observing how they express their play and non-verbal expressions in a safe and consistent environment.
While playing, children often reveal their thoughts and what is bothering them, as well as their unconscious worries, concerns and fears. Children oftentimes work through their experiences by developing meaning, learning to manage stress and their behaviors in the context of play, while optimizing healthy development. In essence, toys become the child’s words, and provide a way to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a non-threatening way.
Play therapy is useful for helping to strengthen bonds between children, their siblings and their parents, resolve traumatic events, including abuse and domestic violence, and an effective way to process through strong emotions, such as anxiety and depression. Benefits include social-emotional competency, problem solving ability, developing coping skills and increasing self-esteem and self-concept. Some modalities that might be use include various games and fun toys, sand tray and expressive art therapy. Play therapy is not just for children, it has been proven effective for teens and adults, as well!
For more information and research on Play Therapy, click here.
If your child or teen is experiencing any emotions or behaviors that you do not understand, or do not know how to handle, please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule an initial consultation with one of our Play Therapists. We also have counselors in training with Play Therapy who would love to work with your family!
Counselors in Play Therapy Training
Kaitlyn Sampson, MA, PLPC, CPT
Counselors in Play Therapy Training
Lee’s Summit Location
Counselors in Play Therapy Training
St. Joseph Location
Kaily Lowrey, CIT (in Play Therapy Training)
Collaborative treatment that can enhance your child’s current behavior therapy. For more information on how your child may benefit from counseling for autism spectrum disorders, check out our Autism page!
Our child and family counselors provide evidence-based treatment from a play therapy approach, Filial Therapy or Child Parent Play Therapy, to improve interactive patterns between children and their parents.
Trauma Competent Care
At Embark Counseling Services, all of our counselors are not only informed on trauma care, but take intentional steps to utilize competent practice to care for you during your healing. Telling your trauma story is hard. Telling your trauma story invokes intense emotions, and having a competent and experienced counselor along your journey through healing provides not only understanding, but also insight into taking back your life and your power. You deserve to take this step. You deserve a competent counselor for your healing experience.
For more information about our trauma competent approach to therapy, please contact our practice manager to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced and trained counselors.