top of page

What is play therapy and sand play therapy?

Play therapy and sand Play Therapy are counseling interventions that allow the client additional means of expression. Talking is viewed as only one part of communication. Sand Play and Play Therapy differ from traditional talk therapy in a number of ways. Some of these include:

Play allows children an alternative to talking to communicate their feelings. Children use toys to express themselves where as adults use verbal language. Play therapy is to children what talk therapy is to adults.

Play is how children communicate. They are fluent in that language! Play therapists have special training that enables them to understand a child’s play language.

Even if a child has good grades and is intelligent in other ways, they still may not know the words to use to share how they are feeling.

The playroom setting makes a child feel more comfortable.

The relationship the child forms with the play therapist and the process of play therapy helps them to have more self confidence, self control, and respect for self and others.

What age group is play therapy used with?

Play therapy is primarily used with children ages 2-11 years old. This is due to the fact that 2-11 year old children tend to grasp play in a different manner than older kids. However, some play therapy interventions are also appropriate for adolescents and adults.

What is a play therapy clinic?

In addition to the play therapy services provided by certified play therapists at Integrative Counseling Services, play therapy services are also available through the Play Therapy Clinic.  At the Clinic, children will work with a play therapist-in-training.  All student play therapists are under the direct supervision of Dr. Jodi Weinstein Mullen, certified play therapist and play therapist supervisor.  They have completed a graduate level course in play therapy, and have a minimum of a Master’s degree (or are currently enrolled in a graduate level program) in the mental health field.

Features of the Program:

  • Children can obtain quality counseling and play therapy from a person who is training for certification as a play therapist.

  • All sessions between student-play therapist and child clients will be evaluated by Dr. Mullen.

  • The clinic is open on weekends and evenings, children will not need to be removed from school to obtain counseling services.

  • Children can obtain quality counseling and play therapy for a fraction of the cost of seeing a certified play therapist.


What is a certified play therapist?

All counselors at Integrative Counseling Services who are also Play Therapists have gone through specialized training and preparation to earn the credential of CCPT or RPT. In order to be a Certified Play Therapist, you must be a Mental Health professional with at least an earned Master’s degree in a helping profession.

  • - Play Therapists have graduate level Play Therapy coursework or workshops in play therapy.

  • - Play Therapists have completed a rigorous post-masters training program.

  • - Play Therapists can be recognized with professional designation CCPT, CCPT-S, RPT, or RPT-S after their last name.

Can my child's play therapist help in custody cases?

Play Therapists and our counselors who work with children will not participate in court cases regarding custody. Counseling services are intended to benefit the child through a support-based approach. Court cases involving mental health professionals run the risk of seriously damaging the therapeutic relationship and therapeutic work with child clients.


Please see our Custody/Court page for more information!


What toys are in the play rooms?

The following is a sample list of toys you may find in a play therapy room:


Kitchen/Food Items
– Play kitchen
– Plastic food
– Empty food containers (i.e. egg cartons, oatmeal canisters…)
– Grocery cart
– A canvas/fabric sack
– Plastic plates, cups, and utensils.
– Plastic pans

Dress-Up Items
– Crowns
– Capes
– Feather boas
– Purses
– Cell phones/old cordless phones
– Masks (scary and not so scary)
– Hats (occupational types)
– Tool belt
– Beads/jewelry
– Badges
– Puppets (scary and not so scary)

Nurturing/Family Play Items
– Dolls
– Baby/doll clothes
– Diaper bag/diapers/wipes
– Stroller
– Baby grooming items (combs, fake powder bottle)
– Baby bottle (with lots of spare nipples)
– Doll house (lots of people represented- family, community members, pets)
– High Chair
– Cradle/bassinet/crib
– Cash register/plastic money

Aggression/Power/Action Items
– Bop bag/punching bag
– Swords AND shields
– Foam pool noodles
– Plastic guns
– Handcuffs
– Velcro/magnet dart board
– Nerf basketball
– Blocks (wooden or foam)

Expressive Arts/Creative Items
– Paper (different sizes)- Having large butcher paper available is a good idea as well
– Markers/crayons
– Play-doh (make sure you have a back up for when it gets “germy”)
– Paint
– Stickers
– Glitter/feathers
– Beads/string
– Glue

Frequently Asked Questions about

Play Therapy

bottom of page