Living in a developmental stage that is inherently confusing and chaotic, adolescents are vulnerable, unsure of themselves, and often guarded when it comes to trusting and relating to others. Most teens and tweens are not in therapy by choice, and typically are NOT interested in talking about their feelings or the issues adults have identified as “problems,” especially with a stranger.
As a therapist, this presents a challenge for engaging teens and tweens who are clearly struggling but unwilling or unable to talk about it. At a time when adolescents and preteens need our help in navigating the multiple challenges of family, academic, and social life more than ever, the gap between clinical theory as taught in graduate school and real-life practice continues to widen.
Play therapy offers a unique avenue for expression that honors these clients’ developmental level and gives language to their thoughts and feelings in a non-threatening manner. Through the power of play, you can help teens and tweens process their emotions, build self-regulation skills, improve distress tolerance, and discover themselves in a non-directive safe way.