Norma Cruson, M.Ed., NCC, LPC-S

Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S)
EMDR Trained
Monday through Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm
Appointment Request Click Here

Play Therapy

What ages of children do you see for play therapy?
I work with children from ages three to 11 years of age in the playroom. If your child is younger than three, you and your child can join me together for filial sessions.

What is play therapy?
As play therapists, we like to say “play is the child’s language” and “toys are the child’s words” (Landreth, 2002). Play therapy is the developmentally appropriate method of therapy for children ages 3 to 11 years. Play therapy allows your child to express himself/herself in the playroom using selected toys and materials. Through our therapeutic relationship, I can then enter your child’s world and assist your child in sharing that world.

What type of play therapy do you provide?
I utilize Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT). CCPT is a non-directive approach that asks your child to be in control of the play choices, thereby assisting your child in developing autonomy, self-regulation, mood regulation, and an inner locus of control that helps him/her manage daily situations in life.

How does play therapy work?
With a minimum of direction from me, your child is responsible for making play choices and allowed to release tension and emotion related to past experiences and current stressors. While your child plays they demonstrate play themes such that they are able to share their personal perspective by making the abstract into a concrete, relatable narrative. Your child is able to experience self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-acceptance in the therapeutic relationship that transfers to relationships at home and school. Your child can become more capable of managing his/her emotions and needs outside of the playroom. Within the “language” of play, he/she is able to relate his/her own experiences and allow the therapeutic relationship to develop.

How long does play therapy last?
The average number of play therapy sessions is 10-14 sessions, though this number can be significantly longer (sessions for 6 months or more) for children who have experienced trauma, neglect, abuse, or various chronic mental health issues. Also, research and my personal experience has shown me children initially seem to immediately experience delight and relief they can share their concerns. They then begin to “act out” after the second session as the therapeutic relationship has evolved such that they are beginning to confront emotional pain and discomfort. With further sessions, the child then begins to trust the relationship even further, goes deeper into his/her concerns, and eventually feels more self-regulation and peace.

Can I know what my child is doing in play therapy?
Before I meet your child, you and I will have schedule a parent consult in which we will discuss your child’s needs for therapy, their background, and their current daily stressors. Then, for the next three sessions I will meet solely with your child for individual play sessions.
After those three sessions, ideally we will again meet for a parent consult to discuss your child’s progress and changes as well as for me to provide feedback on your child’s therapeutic progress, offer resources and suggestions, discuss changes that could be made at home or school, and talk about a plan for continued therapy sessions for your child. Subsequent sessions are then individual sessions for your child, ideally with you and I meeting every three to four sessions for similar parent consults.
During our parent consult sessions, we will keep in mind that your child has a right to confidentiality. Thus, I will only discuss play themes and specific behaviors that your child may be demonstrating in his/her sessions.

How can I help my child get the most out of his/her session?
Please click here to take a look at these suggestions for how you can facilitate your child having successful therapeutic play session.

Discover more about play therapy through these resources:

  • The Association for Play Therapy site at
  • The University of North Texas Center for Play Therapy at
  • Landreth, G. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship, 2nd edition. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
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