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Frequently Asked Questions

10 Most Frequently Asked Questions


What does the child counseling process look like?

Step 1: Call For A Free Consultation

During this phone consultation, a child therapist will discuss with you concerns and struggles that are innitiating your call. This is a time to learn a bit about the play therapy process and see if working with Healing Through Play is a good fit. If you would like to begin working with Healing Through Play, the child therapist will set up a time for you to meet for an initail intake. Otherwise, the child therapist will refer you to another agency, child counselor, or professional that may help you with your situation. 


Step 2: The Parent Intake

The parent intake session will take place at Healing Through Play's Lafayette or Boulder office. This is a 50 minute meeting with just parents and the child therapist. You will discuss the forms you have filled out ahead of time, a more detailed explaination of the Synergetic Play Therapy™ process, goals for your child's growth, and have any questions answered. You will also arrange the best time for your parent time during this session.


Step 3: Your Child's First Session

This is the first time your child will meet his play therapist. Your child's session will last for 45 minutes and is often followed by a parent discussion (this will be arranged in the Parent Intake). We have a waiting room for your child to sit during parent time. During this time, it is often helpful if you child has a snack and/or game to play while waiting in the reception area. If your child is not old enough to wait on their own, or needs their own parent time directly following a session, your child therapist will arrange to have parent time either over the phone or in person during a time that is convenient for you. 

"Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to support our child in her development towards becoming a well rounded, happy, and self-reflective individual."

- Karen S., mom



What type of background and experience do your child therapists have?

All of our Child Counselors are Registered Psychotherapists in the state of Colorado with at least a Masters Degree in Counseling, Masters of Marriage and Family Counseling, a Masters of Divinity, or a Masters of Social Work. 


Our Lead Child Therapist, Heather Gunther, has two decades of expereince working with hundreds of children in both academic and purely counseling situations. Some common reasons for seeking her expertise include struggling with anxiety, divorce, sensory sensativities, adoption, overwhelm, melt-downs or temper tantrums, gifted, sensory processing disorder, autism, aspergers, sibling rivalry, agression, fear(s), trauma - including medical trauma, school issues, behavior issues, ADD/ADHD, under achievement, making and maintaining friends and relationships, and much more. To learn more about her experience visit her bio page.

Can I be in the counseling session with my child?

Most children are open and ready to begin their first session on their own. There are toys and a comfortable room to safely work through their struggles. For most children, it is not necessary for a parent to be in the session.


However, if a child is very anxious about being seperate from a parent, then it may make sense for you to join the first session or part of the first session. This can provide your child with the knowledge that they are with a trusted adult who is safe to spend time with when you are not around. 


Our goal is to support your child through the anxiety and develop enough self-confidence and independence to do their work without the extra support of their parents being in the room. 


"We have experienced a truly astounding change in our son's behavior.

After just one session he stopped having behavioral issues at school!

I would recommend Heather to anyone."

- Mom of 5 year old


Will you tell me everything that happens in a session? When will we talk?

Your child's therapist will discuss the themes and key components of your childs session with you, either directly after the session or over the phone. It's not necessary to name every event that happened during a session for our time to be effective. During this 10-15 minute parent time, your child's counselor will discuss with you what progress is taking place in the playroom, at home and in school. This is also a time for you to discuss ways to support the transformation at home and any questions you may have about the process, specific struggles, and implementation of strategies. The goal is for you to feel supported by the therapist you are working with, so you can collaborate together


How long will play therapy take?

On average, it will take 15 sessions of play therapy for your child to meet the goals set forth and feel more empowered. The session timeframe is prolonged when a stressor is ongoing or from birth. Below is a list of circumstances that may cause treatment to last longer than 15 sessions:


* A new seperatation or divorce, especially where the scheduling keeps changing

* Sensory Sensativites, which are an ongoing stressors in the child's life

* On-going neglect, abuse, or witnissing of abuse of others



"Heather was a total blessing, giving us some very strategic tools to use as parents & a wonderful ally to Forrest. Thank you!"

- Parent of Forrest


How does Play Therapy work (especially for kids that are a little older)?

Synergetic Play Therapy™ is a primarily non-directive approach, which gives your child the ability to overcome obstacles at their own pace, preventing re-traumatization or shutting down. This sense of control and leading the session is what a child needs, regardless of age, to feel safe enough to try new skills and make different choices


With older children, this means they can choose to engage with any toy, game, art project, or conversation that feels meaningful to their personal work. There is something for everyone in the playroom and older children tend to blend play with discussion because they want to make sense of their experiences physically, emotionally, and cognitively, allowing for complete integration. 


Are there different types of Play Therapy?


Yes. There are three main types of Play Thearpy: Child-Centered, Experiential, and Synergetic. Healing Through Play Therapists use Synergetic Play Therapy™, which is the fastest of all three Play Therapy modalities with an average of 15 sessions, while the average for Experiential is 20, and for Child Centered it's more like 40 sessions. 


Synergetic Play Therapy™ (SPT) is also the first research-informed play therapy model to blend together neuroscience, attachment/attunement, therapist authenticity, physics, emotional congruence, nervous system regulation, and mindfulness/mindsight.


What this means is


Synergetic Play Therapists™ understand the neuro-science behind the transformation process and are able to work with a child (and the family) in such a way that targets:


1) Supporting the child in moving towards the uncomfortable sensations, emotions and thoughts that they might be experiencing. The result is that the child heals at much deeper and faster level.


2) Re-patterning of the child's nervous systems. The result is that the child feels empowered in his/her physical body, while learning new and more effective coping strategies that he/she can take with him/her for life.


3) Teaching the child how to stay connected (attach) to him/herself, so that his/herauthentic self emerges and his/her belief in self increases.


(, Lisa Dion, 2013)


How do you work with trauma? How do you know that you wont re-traumatize my child?

Synergetic Play Therapy™ is a primarily non-directive approach, which gives your child the ability to overcome obstacles at their own pace, preventing re-traumatization or shutting down. This sense of control and leading the session is what a child needs, regardless of age, to feel safe enough to try new skills and make different choices


Part of the process of Synergetic Play Therapy™ is learning how your child sees the world. By learning your child's perception of the world and specific experiences, we can help her adjust her perseption to allow for more choices and possibiliites. For example: A child who experienced a car accident and perceives cars as scary or overwhelming feels limited by her options, usually resulting in tantrums, melt-downs, hitting, etc. We will work to transfrom those perseptions of cars and the accident as scary, while providing a new skill set for managing the fear, overwhelm, and anxiety. The result is a new experience and perception of vehicles, and a sense of feeling confident and capable of overcoming big emotions when they arise. 


What's the difference between Psychotherapy, Counseling, and Play Therapy?

In the state of Colorado, a practitioner can be a Registered Psychotherapist, Counselor, and Play Therapist all at once.​ However, not everyone is qualified to do all three.


A Registered Psychotherapist is someone who has passed a test called the Juris Prudence and is registered with the state of Colorado to provide services to the public. A Counselor is someone who has recieved a Masters Degree in Counseling from an accredited university. A Play Therapist is a specialist who has trained to work with children through play. Our child therapists are all three.


Do you offer family therapy? How will I be involved?

Often, if a single member of a family is struggling, we focus on providing support and specific tools for that person first. Once your child is reaching their goals, feeling more empowered, and capable of making more choices, they may need support translating their new skills into their family environment. This is when we may suggest family therapy. 


Family Therapy can be a great opportunity to practice healthy ways of being in relationships both now and in the future (as kids begin to grow up, make friends, date, and work). In a family therapy session, your role is to be present with your child as they practice their new communication and regulation skills with you. You may be asked to play, talk, and move around with your child during sessions.



Contact Heal Through Play in Lafayette, Colorado, to work with play therapy counselors with 15 years of experience working with children and parent.

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