Kidaru Indoor Playground and Learning Center

La Cumbre Plaza in Santa Barbara, CA
(805) 682-7400 or play@kidaru.com

Open Play Daily - 9am to 6pm
Parents Night Out Fridays - 5pm to 9pm

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Play Therapy for Children and Families

Does Play Therapy Work?

Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Bratton, Ray, Rhine, & Jones, 2005; LeBlanc & Ritchie, 2001; Lin & Bratton, 2015; Ray, Armstrong, Balkin, & Jayne, 2015; Reddy, Files-Hall, & Schaefer, 2005).

Play therapy helps children:

  • Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
  • Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
  • Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
  • Learn to experience and express emotion.
  • Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
  • Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
  • Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.

Meta-analytic reviews of over 100 play therapy outcome studies (Bratton, Ray, Rhine, & Jones, 2005; LeBlanc & Ritchie, 2001; Lin & Bratton, 2015; Ray, Armstrong, Balkin, & Jayne, 2015). have found that the over-all treatment effect of play therapy ranges from moderate to high positive effects. Play therapy has proven equally effective across age, gender, and presenting problem. Additionally, positive treatment effects were found to be greatest when there was a parent actively involved in the child's treatment.

How Long Does Play Therapy Take?

Each play therapy session varies in length but usually last about 30 to 50 minutes. Sessions are usually held weekly. Research suggests that it takes an average of 20 play therapy sessions to resolve the problems of the typical child referred for treatment. Of course, some children may improve much faster while more serious or ongoing problems may take longer to resolve (Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002).

Who Practices Play Therapy?

The practice of play therapy requires extensive specialized education, training, and experience. A play therapist is a mental health professional who has earned a Master's or Doctorate degree in a mental health field with considerable general clinical experience and supervision. In addition to graduate school and licensing requirements, play therapists are required to complete many hours of specialized play therapy training.

At Kidaru, we partner with a non-profit organization called Colorful Schools to offer competent counseling and mentoring services to children and families, regardless of ability to pay (sliding scale). In order to remove the stigma of therapy, we have mental health professionals with specialized training and experience in working with children come to Kidaru to offer sessions in a natural playful environment. We offer individual, family and group sessions.

How do I schedule a session?

Please email Colorful Schools (info@colorfulschools.org) to schedule a confidential complimentary consultation.