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Play therapy available at YSS of Hamilton County

Program designed to help young children express emotions

Tierra Luppen

YSS of Hamilton County is offering a new play therapy program to help young children express their emotions, according to officials.

Tierra Luppen, LMSW, is the new play therapist for YSS of Hamilton County.

From a young age, people have enjoyed using toys as symbols during play -an activity that comes naturally to us. Play occurs before people are able to express their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and needs in words and is an avenue through which children – and teenagers and adults – gain insight, relieve stress, build skills and relationships, and process events and emotions. Play therapy, a therapeutic intervention based on play, is for people of all ages, but can especially help children who do not have the vocabulary to clearly explain what’sgoing on inside verbally with words.

Children who are old enough to engage in meaningful play are old enough to benefit from play therapy, according to Luppen. This type of therapy is especially helpful for kids between the ages of three and twelve.

Essentially, play allows the child and therapist to create a safe and accepting place to process and express emotions and explore meaning using a variety of modalities, such as toys, music, art, storytelling, dance, movement, fantasy and pretending, and much more. Play therapy is supported by research and is recommended by many professionals as one of the best interventions for children’s mental health, said Luppen.

Many parents and loved-ones may notice concerns regarding their child’s emotions and behaviors, but feel unsure if therapy will help. Play therapy bridges the gap between what is thought think about when one hears the word “therapy” and what is developmentally appropriate for young children.

Life can be very frustrating for kids when they cannot express the way that they feel, according to Luppen, and this can impact the relationship they have with their parents and others around them. Parents who chose play therapy for their children understand there are many ways for their child to express themselves other than simply talking. Many parents involve their children in play therapy in response to loss, anxiety, trauma, divorce, and many other life changes and stressors.

During play, themes arise that help adults gain insight into what emotions, stressors, or events the child is struggling with, and they can play these emotions and events out.

To learn more about the process of play therapy, contact Tierra Luppen, LMSW, at YSS of Hamilton County 515-832-1061 or email ttedrick@yss.org

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