Play Therapy for children and teens.

Children don’t say, “I had a hard day, can we talk?” They say, “Will you play with me?” Lawrence Cohen

Sometimes it is difficult for children and teens to find the words of what they feel and experience. The free and protected space, using arts, sand trays, clay and toys provides a place where non rational and non- verbal processes can activate ways of thinking that leads to problem solving. Teens are more willing and able to open up through this process, as it is non-threatening.

As the brain is shocked in traumatic events and information is not processed as it should be, neurological and reprocessing techniques are used to target dysfunctional memories and take out the emotional sting in the memory.

Sand Tray:
Child working through loss.

The sand tray is used by children, but it is a favourite for many teens.

In the therapy session the unconscious thoughts that are suppressed are brought up to consciousness. In the calm, intentional and focused environment completeness and emotional healing can be experienced by the child or teen. There are different windows in play therapy to see into a child’s world.

“People are capable of holding two opposing beliefs at the same time; one logical and one experiential. Feelings should not be denied or ignored since they can be trusted to point us in the direction of what we experientially believe” (Dr Ed M Smith, 1996).

In the play therapy and TPM processes the unconscious thoughts can be revealed. As the nervous system in the brain integrates through new ways of thinking, healing takes place.

In the process of play therapy or sand tray work:

  • Passivity transforms into activity
  • There is a kind of a distance
  • Ignoring the traumatic event can bring destruction
  • Dealing with triggering issues brings forth wholeness
  • Pressure is not placed on children to perform
  • Children can process their emotions
  • Social skills and problem solving methods can be learned in this way

Bonding Therapy

  • There are two lasting gifts we can give a child. The first is roots. The other is wings.
  • Attachment between parents (biological, foster or adoptive) and children can be strengthened through bonding therapy.
  • Research has found that many factors can have an influence on the attachment between a mother and child before the child is born and the period just after the child is born.
  • Children who had fragile attachment with their parents can have many developmental disadvantages for the rest of their lives.
  • Bonding therapy is done through structured play therapy sessions to reverse the fragile attachment between the parent figure and child. The goal of bonding therapy is to reverse the disadvantages; and to restore the fragile attachment to a strong and meaningful attachment.
  • Healthy attachment between a father and his child leads to children feeling that they have value and are competent to achieve tasks.
  • Both parents complete each other in the task of raising a child.
  • Structured play therapy is applied in bonding therapy.


Children thrive when their parents have a cooperative co-parental relationship (Amato, 2005).

In the Children’s Act38 of 2005, mediation is stipulated as the preferred method of dealing with disputes between co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights.Mediation is a process designed to resolve disputes during which a neutral third person assists parties to negotiate a settlement or parenting plan.

The Children’s Act clearly indicates that parents must attempt the drafting of a Parenting Plan if they cannot agree on how to exercise their parenting responsibilities and rights. This can be done through a process of mediation if the parties are willing to participate in the mediation process. Litigation is used when parties decide that they cannot resolve a dispute and request the Court to make a finding.

In terms of the Children’s Act the therapist focuses on: Section 7: Best interest of the child standard; Section 10: Child participation; Section 31: Major decisions involving the child.
The therapist uses the current standard by the Family Advocate to understand the views and wishes of children.Mediators or lawyers of both parties can request this office’s services to hear the child’s voice.

Supervised visitations can be arranged with this office in accordance with certain terms and conditions.

Transformation Prayer Ministry (TPM)

Broken things and people are the result of sin. Yet God sent His Son to be broken that we may be healed.

“TPM seeks to connect people with the only real source of power there is for lasting victory, and that is Christ Jesus. It is a means by which we can choose to identify recurring negative feeling, expose the roots and find truth, leading to lasting freedom in that area of our lives. It is an authentic encounter with the presence of Christ, resulting in mind renewal and a subsequently transformed life” (Dr Ed M Smith).

Transformation follows mind renewal. Ed Smith
Mind renewal means inward and outward transformation. People report peace where there was pain, followed by natural, effortless behaviour changes. If a person has an authentic encounter with God, there should be a noticeable difference.

Our own efforts to control our behaviour often lead to legalism, pride and eventual failure. Transformation will follow mind renewal. Mind renewal is what happens in a ministry session when Christ’s transforming truth is received.

“TPM’s basic principles are based on simple biblical truths accompanied by neurological facts.” Dr.EdM.Smith
TPM differs in many ways from some other methods of biblical counselling. The distinction is not so much in the truth that is received, but in the One who is dispersing it (Holy Spirit, rather than the counselor) and in the context in which it is received (prayer rather than teaching or counselling).
With respect to Dr.EdM Smith (Founder of TPM)