Interestingly, when in a session with a client, I don’t ‘do’ much at all… but what I am, is present. I almost need to forget everything I know as a teacher and put it all to the side during this time. By allowing the child to take the lead in the play space, they have the opportunity to ask and receive how they want to me to engage and interact with them, or not.
As adults we become quite used to saying what we think and feel, relatively easily as we can draw upon past experiences and memories to guide us in our decision making. When you step into the close up world of a child you can be reminded of the feelings reminiscent of your youth when you just wanted the ‘freedom’ to be an adult!
Encouraging the client to make choices feels something like that ‘imagined freedom’ and then the child can focus their attention on being a child again. It can be easy to think that the child that ignores or challenges an adult’s instruction does not know how to do something, but of course when there is no sense of reprimand for saying what you think/want/feel in the safety of a play therapist the conversation can become much more real and relevant to the child. And the biggest bonus from this, all that teaching and learning from teachers, parents, extended family and other adults magically shows up without pressure as the strategies I share with them to solve their problems.