What to Expect
Free initial phone consultation
I am happy to provide a free 20 minute consultation by phone to discuss the current issues in your family. We will put our heads together to work out the best fit between what is needed and what I am able to provide. I have confidence in my ability to assist your child (or youth) and your family with a wide range of emotional and behavioral issues. If, however, the issue is outside my areas of expertise, I will assist you with appropriate referrals.
Intake and Initial Assessment
For therapy with children 12 and under, my practice is to meet with the parent or parents first, without the child present. If parents are separated, I customarily try to obtain informed consent from both, prior to commencing therapy with the child.
The intake session allows us to discuss the child’s or family’s current issue in detail. It also allows me to gather information about the child’s earlier development and any previous adverse experiences. This gives me a broader understanding of the context in which the child’s current difficulties are occurring. The intake session also gives you the opportunity to learn more about me and my approach.
Together, we will choose the form of child and family therapy that will best fit your family’s needs. I will then discuss how you can broach the subject of coming to see me with your child.
Play Therapy for Children
Play therapy provides a safe and supportive environment in which children are given the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings about their difficult experiences through play, which is their natural means of communication. Thoughts, feelings and behavior are closely interconnected in children. Although I concentrate on the child’s thoughts and feelings, as revealed symbolically through their play, the results include changes in behavior.
My play therapy rooms are equipped with a variety of toys and materials, appropriate for facilitating expressive play in children aged 3-12. If the child needs assistance getting started, I may make suggestions for initial activities. For the most part, the play is chosen and led by them. I respond empathically, attuning to the nuances of their play. This helps extend their concentration and focus as they work towards a symbolic resolution of their difficulties.
Regular consultation with parents is an important part of play therapy. Frequent phone calls, and periodic parental sessions allow me to integrate feedback and updates into my work with the child.
I am comfortable providing play therapy with the parent remaining in the room, and certainly expect that some children will need their parent present until they feel secure with me. Other children may want and need to spend most of the session time with the therapist alone. I do, as a practice, request parental involvement at start or end of most sessions. In this way, the parent is an active and informed participant in their child’s healing process.
I would highly recommend Velvet as your child’s play therapist. I felt that I was lucky to be able to find Velvet when I felt I could no longer provide the support that I knew my child needed. Velvet was able to give my child coping tools that she could take out into the world with her. My child found ways to express her concerns to Velvet through playful activities (painting, role playing, and a favorite-the sand tray). I also appreciated the frequent phone conversations that I had with Velvet as we progressed through the therapy sessions, as well as the conversations with me and my child after each session. Velvet is extremely kind and gentle and creates a lovely environment for a child to feel comfortable to open up to.
The video “Play Therapy Works” provides an excellent, 7 minute overview of the process of play therapy. Click the link below to view the video:
- The family therapist builds on the family’s strengths to promote positive change in the area of difficulty. As a family therapist, I work with all family members in a flexible series of combinations, in order to resolve differences between individual family members and strengthen connections. Research studies have shown that strong relationships between different family members, combined with healthy communication, regular opportunities to be together, and robust connections to the larger community, result in resilient families that can withstand the impact of negative events.
- In family therapy I use a combination of talk and hands-on activities in order to include all family members. I may start family therapy by seeing the parents alone, especially if the family has young children. However, if the family has adolescents, I will include them at intake. The second session involves seeing all family members together to talk and take part in age-appropriate activities. This helps me to understand how the family operates, and also provides all family members with the opportunity to get to know me. I may then ask family members to attend sessions in smaller groups – father and son together, for example, or mother with her daughters – in order to address specific areas of difficulty.
- Changes in how the family functions will be apparent in the intervening periods between sessions. News of these shifts will be discussed at the start of each session so that momentum and motivation for change can build.
“Our children began to see Velvet during a very difficult family breakdown. During this dark time, Velvet’s high degree of skill, perception and compassion brought much needed clarity and articulation to our children’s lives. This enabled them to find workable solutions too many problems they were faced with. Our family has greatly benefitted from Velvet’s strongly professional and skilled services.”
- I provide counselling and consultation to parents seeking support in parenting their child. There may have been a significant loss or change in the family; the child may have entered a new developmental stage that presents challenges for the parent. Although I customarily work directly with children and families, there are situations where the parent prefers or needs to attend counselling on their own. Parent and I work collaboratively to develop more effective strategies for addressing the current needs of the child or children. If the parent’s own issues interact with their children’s difficulties, these will also be pinpointed and addressed. The parent will then be supported to implement the chosen strategies on a daily basis in the home.
Filial Play Therapy
- In filial therapy, the parent is taught the basic strategies of play therapy in order to strengthen the bonds of attachment between parent and child. Parent coaching sessions (with parent and therapist) alternate with videotaped sessions in which parent and child play together in a play therapy setting. Review of videotape without the child present follows. This process is repeated until the parent feels comfortable with, and demonstrates mastery of the basic skills. At this point, play sessions are moved to the family home.
- Although filial therapy maintains a humorous and light-hearted touch, the research shows significant outcomes in many areas. When a child experiences their parent as listening to them, entering the child’s world, and allowing the child to lead the play, the child is more able to accept the limits parents need to set at other times. When a full complement of filial therapy sessions have been successfully completed (typically 15-20 sessions), studies have established that the child shows significant improvements in behavior. There are often no differences in outcomes between filial therapy, where the parent works with the child, and play therapy, where the child works directly with a professional.