Frequently Asked Questions

How long will therapy take?

Will my child and I be seen together or individually?

What is play therapy?

What are the benefits of play therapy?

Is there any research on play therapy?

Where can I get more information on play therapy?

What is parent counselling?

How can parent counselling help?

How do your own experiences as a child impact your parenting?

What is family counselling?

What are the benefits of family counselling?

What is filial play therapy?

What are the benefits of filial play therapy?


How Long Will Therapy Take?

The length of counselling or therapy cannot usually be determined ahead of time, but the decision to continue or not will ultimately always be yours. We will periodically discuss your progress to determine how many sessions might be needed.

Some clients find four to six sessions to be helpful, especially when dealing mainly with specific parenting issues and questions. Usually however, children and families need a minimum of between six and twelve sessions to benefit. More sessions may be needed for more serious difficulties.

Some clients will engage in therapy for a period of time and then take a break from therapy knowing they can return at any point in time for "booster" sessions or if difficulties arise.

Will My Child and I be Seen Together or Individually?

Over the years, there have been concerns that traditional family therapists have ignored the voices of the children in the family and have concentrated mainly on the issues of the parents. For this reason, play therapy has become an effective way of working with children. During play therapy, the child is seen alone giving him or her an opportunity to be heard by a caring adult therapist and to work through current difficulties.

I offer play therapy because I believe that sometimes children need a special place to express themselves safely and to have their voices heard and acknowledged. Often children are afraid to express themselves to their parents for a number of reasons. The benefit of having an understanding play therapist is that children will feel free to express themselves without being afraid of hurting their parents or of causing their parents to disapprove of them.

There have also been concerns in the past that therapists who work only with children will exclude the parents from the therapeutic process, thus causing the parents to feel even more inadequate. For this reason, I believe that as a parent, you need to be an integral part of the therapeutic process with your child. You are the key people in the life of your child and need to be acknowledged for this extremely important role that you play. When providing parent counselling services to you, I will help you to understand your child better and learn new ways of interacting with your child. This will enable you to be a source of continuing support to your child long after therapy has terminated.

I also believe that family counselling, where your family is seen together in therapy, and filial play therapy, where one parent and one child are seen together in therapy, provide enormous benefits when needed. These methods offer a way of tying everything together so that your entire family system benefits.

I offer a variety of ways for you and your child to work in therapy. Depending on your particular needs, you and your child may see me individually and/or together.

What is Play Therapy?

Throughout childhood, children express themselves much better through play rather than by talking. In play therapy, children express themselves symbolically by playing, and will communicate their conscious and unconscious feelings and experiences through play. Emotional experiences that are important to the child or have impacted the child in some way will show up as play behaviors. In play therapy, children are provided with specially chosen toys to enable them to say with toys what they have difficulty saying with words.

In play therapy, children do not have to talk directly about their problems to gain relief. Play therapy allows children to distance themselves from difficult feelings and memories, which would normally be too challenging for them to talk about directly.

In play therapy, children learn they can safely express difficult feelings to gain a sense of relief. When children express their feelings and thoughts in play therapy the difficult feelings and memories become less intense. This results in problem behaviors decreasing or being eliminated altogether.

In play therapy, children will play out difficult feelings or stressful experiences in order to gain an understanding of them. Creative thoughts are encouraged and children can work through and find solutions to their problems consciously and unconsciously during play therapy. Children can then regain a sense of control and safety in their lives resulting in increased self-confidence and changes in behavior.

When adults face a problem, they will usually think about what happened, look at it from different perspectives, talk about it with someone they trust, and plan how to handle a similar situation in the future. During play therapy, children do these same things using their imaginations.

As a method of counselling children, play therapy has been found to be effective for children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Play therapy is also an excellent way to help children recover and heal from stressful or traumatic experiences.

What Are the Benefits of Play Therapy?

Is There Any Research on Play Therapy?

There has been recent interest in evaluating the existing research on the effectiveness of play therapy. The following statements summarize play therapy research:

"In the areas of (a) improving self-concept, (b) initiating behavioral change, (c) enhancing cognitive development, (d) promoting social skills, and (e) reducing anxiety, play therapy is a proven method of treating children with problems."

From: Bratton, S.C & Ray, D. (2001). Humanistic play therapy. In D.J. Cain (Ed.), Humanistic psychotherapies: Handbook of research and practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

"Play therapy appears to be an effective treatment for children's problems. Two main factors appear to increase the effectiveness of play therapy:

(a) Parental Involvement: Parental involvement significantly increased the effectiveness of play therapy, and

(b) Number of Sessions: The effectiveness of play therapy continued to increase in relation to the number of sessions up to 35 to 45 sessions. However, play therapy was also found to be effective even with as few as two sessions."

From: Ray, D., Bratton, S., Rhine, T., & Jones, L. (2001). The effectiveness of play therapy: Responding to the critics. International Journal of Play Therapy, 10 (1), 85 - 108).

Where Can I Get More Information on Play Therapy?

What is Parent Counselling?

If your child is struggling with emotional difficulties or behavior problems, or if he or she has gone through a difficult or traumatic situation, as a parent you are likely to be feeling:

Parent counselling is a way for you to reduce your stress levels and to increase your sense of confidence when interacting with your child.

How Can Parent Counselling Help?

How Do Your Own Experiences as a Child Impact Your Parenting?

When you become a parent, your experiences with your own family when you were a child serve to guide you in your current role. You may be repeating the same parenting behaviors as your parents or caregivers used on you in spite your best intentions. Alternately, you may have consciously decided to parent in completely the opposite way from how you were parented as a child. While some of these parenting behaviors may be useful and adaptive, some of them may not be.

It is important for you to be aware of how and where you learned your current parenting strategies. Then you are able to make decisions about building on your current healthy parenting skills and discarding and replacing the more unhealthy parenting approaches.

What is Family Counselling?

Your family is more that just a group of individuals sharing a particular physical space or relational ties. Your family can be considered a system in itself, with its own rules, roles, and power structure. Family members collectively form a whole, or system, that can experience a wide range of difficulties. What affects one member of your family is likely to affect all others in the family.

The relationships between members of your family are deep. Individuals in your family are tied to each other by powerful emotional attachments that will persist over the lifetime of your family. Family counselling focuses on the relationships and interactions between your family members.

What are the Benefits of Family Counselling?

What is Filial Play Therapy?

Filial play therapy is a unique counselling approach where you and your child work together to improve child and family problems. You are taught basic play therapy skills so that you can become involved in the therapeutic process with your child. This empowers you to become the primary support for your child.

Filial play therapy has been successfully used with many child and family problems including:

Filial play therapy has been researched a great deal. It has wide applicability with very consistent research results indicating significant improvements in children's problems and parents' skills as well as significant decreases in parents' stress levels.

What are the Benefits of Filial Play Therapy?

To find out more about the services that I offer, please visit my Services page.

Kathy Eugster, MA, RCC, CPT-S
MA, Counselling Psychology
Registered Clinical Counsellor
Certified Play Therapist – Supervisor
Child and Family Therapist
#504 - 1755 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC
(604) 261-4709

Kathy Eugster, MA, RCC, CPT-S

MA, Counselling Psychology
Registered Clinical Counsellor
Certified Play Therapist – Supervisor
Child and Family Therapist

Kathy Eugster