In-person Playtherapy

  • In-person Playtherapy

    Posted by Christian Rensch on May 9, 2020 at 4:11 am

    Hi there.

    I’m wondering whether there are some other playtherapists or child therapists in general who have thought about how to move back to in-person sessions.

    Keeping 2m distance seems impossible and both wearing a mask seems impersonal and maybe even scarry to some kids.

    Has anyone thought about this and come up with some ideas? Would love to hear your thoughts.

    Chris Rensch



    Mary Lin Yan replied 3 years, 10 months ago 2 Members · 1 Reply
  • 1 Reply
  • Mary Lin Yan

    May 19, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    I’m not ready to dive right into in-person yet, but I’ve been trying to imagine possibilities as well as thinking through considerations.

    1) Different kids have different needs and history. So, what works for one may not work for another.

    2) The basic premise, for me, would be “do no harm.” If, knowing what I know and could predict about a certain child, whatever ways I come up with for in-person could be traumatizing (such as, wearing a mask), I wouldn’t proceed.

    3) I also try to imagine: whatever I may do, would it be more beneficial than doing online play therapy.

    4) Since I work from home, I have more, different spaces (other than my play therapy room) that I could consider using to achieve the physical distance.

    5) I have imagined these possibilities:

    a) outdoor in my yard or deck, which I can be sure of protecting confidentiality (however, our weather is unpredictable in the Lower Mainland); there are some therapists who are considering doing outdoor or nature-based therapy;

    b) pre-select toys, thereby limiting the amount of toys I need to sanitize after a session; we know that the therapist is the most important toy in the room, so, we should be fine with less toys; in my mind, sand is out of the question, because it’s hard to sanitize effectively between sessions; there’s been suggestions of having a smaller box of sand for each child;

    c) have certain toys/material (e.g. art material) that are individualized for each child (put aside for them for each session);

    d) I have an indoor space, which is actually the usual wait area (actually my exercise and TV area) that I could consider using; I will need some kind of visually clear boundary between us that I would agree with my kid clients that we wouldn’t cross (I know a couple of my pre-lockdown clients wouldn’t be able to do that, so I will not consider doing it with them);

    e) I would consider wearing masks, if, as far as I know, the clients would not be traumatized; my thinking is, as masks are required more and more in many settings, maybe kids would be more used to seeing that; also, the nice thing is, we can still communicate with our eyes, which is the window to our soul (!); maybe play a game with the masks on to desensitize any possible scariness? Also, we may think it’s scary for the kids, but each kid could be different.

    So far, my thinking is, all these may seem very limiting, but this kind of in-person probably beats online therapy. At the same time, at the end of the day, we have to be comfortable with the risk level ourselves. For me, I’m waiting and seeing and doing online therapy for now….