Trinity Behavioral Health Sees Benefits In Play Therapy

Chris Clancy

June 14, 2019

Trinity Behavioral Health Services is well-known for working with veterans and active-duty service members to provide comprehensive treatment for anxiety, depression, and PTSD, but the Clarksville outpatient clinic is also well-equipped to diagnose and treat child and adolescent behavioral issues.

This is often done through a combination of trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and something called play therapy. Play therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses play—the toys and games kind—to help children resolve certain mental health challenges. When successful, play therapy results in improved social integration, growth and development, and the resolution of past trauma.

Play therapy can be especially useful in diagnosing a mental health issue. When a therapist observes a child playing with toys, he or she observes that child’s patterns of play. It also helps with the child’s willingness to interact with the therapist.

“Our children’s therapists have access to a playroom, with sand tables and Play-Doh,” said La Vaun Kelley, LPC-MHSP, a therapist at Trinity. “It works because the kids can undergo therapy in an environment that’s not intimidating, since it’s not so formal.”

Young clients come to Trinity Health Services because of emotional imbalances, having displayed disruptive behaviors at school or at home. Such behaviors often stem from overwhelming feelings of anxiety, anger, or fear—the kind that stem from traumatic experiences.

“Unfortunately there might be people in the child’s life that might not be totally on the up-and-up,” said Kelley. “We see victims of abuse and molestation, and not just within the home. We employ a combination of play therapy and trauma-focused CBT to get kids to express their feelings about some past trauma and learn new coping skills.”

The Benefits of Play Therapy

Play itself has long been known as a therapeutic activity, expanding the player’s means of self-expression and self-sufficiency. Play also relieves feelings of stress, stimulate creative thinking, and regulate emotions.
Research studies over the past two decades suggest that play therapy helps children between the ages of three and 12:
  • Take greater responsibility for their behavior and develop more successful strategies to manage their behavior
  • 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 others
  • Learn new social skills and relational skills with family
  • Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their own abilities
“Play therapy teaches kids relaxation skills, which is important because much of our work has to do with reinstituting the self-soothing mechanisms that many of us come by naturally,” Kelley said. “What’s interesting is that, once we introduce kids to the playroom, they’ll automatically go back to the playroom next time they come.”

About Trinity Behavioral Health Services

Trinity Behavioral Health Services provides mental health and wellness services in the Clarksville-Montgomery County Area. Utilizing an individualized, strength-focused approach, the practice offers comprehensive outpatient services to help patients manage such mental health issues as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Trinity also offers wellness learning opportunities related to parenting, relationships, and self-care and support groups.

Our Treatment

JourneyPure Clarksville is an intensive outpatient clinic that helps those in the Clarksville area recover from their alcoholism and substance use issues as well as any co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety and depression. We take a comprehensive and holistic approach, including medical intervention, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and select experiential therapies.