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The decision to bring your child to counseling services can often bring on a variety of different emotions and questions for each parent. Our counselors have a hearts that are devoted to the mental, emotional, and spiritual health needs of children and it is one of our favorite populations to work with in a counseling setting. Children are very resilient and open when given a warm, open environment that speaks to their needs. Research has shown that children work out their issues best through element of play. When Kristi Gibney, LPC, started her training for a Play Therapy Certificate, she was immediately drawn to how natural of a setting this creates for a child to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, and develop problem-solving skills. Kristi Gibney, LPC has found the need for play therapy services in the Northern Virginia area and incorporates play therapy training into her supervision process with all of the counselors at Bridge to Balance. Currently all counselors at Bridge to Balance are able to provide play therapy techniques to counseling our children ages 4-17. Our adolescents also enjoy the creative counseling approaches in sessions. Below is some additional information on play therapy and how it can be beneficial for your child.

What is play therapy?

Play therapy is to children what talk therapy is to adults. Play is the child’s way of communicating just as talking is the adult’s natural way of communicating. In the playroom, toys are used like words and play is the child’s language. Children are provided special toys in the play therapy to enable them to say with the toys what they have difficulty expressing with their words. They can use dolls, puppets, paints, sand tray, cars, dress-up, and other toys to say what they think or how they feel.

Why utilize play therapy?

Play therapy is flexible and associated with creativity. Play therapy leads to the promotion of mental health and insight. It is important for children to play and laugh for their well-being. Play therapy expands imagination and assists with problem-solving skills by reframing the situations in a more positive light. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.


What are the benefits of play therapy?

The effectiveness of play therapy is supported by research for children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to family changes (divorce, new members, grief and loss, etc.), recent moves, hospitalization/chronic illness, trauma including abuse, natural disasters, accidents, and exposure to violence, anxiety, anger management, low self esteem, and social challenges.

Play therapy helps children:

  • Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.

  • 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 thoughts and feelings of others.

  • Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.

  • Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.

If you think your child would benefit from play therapy, please contact for your free phone consultation with Cody Agnese, our admin assistant, will help you find the best provider for your family’s needs. Cody can be contacted by phone at 540-359-5696 or email at

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