Group and Play Therapy

At the Cadenza Center, we believe that there are many ways to support therapeutic aims. For some, group therapy is an adjunctive part of a client's overall treatment but for others it may be the primary means. Our clinicians facilitate interactive psychoeducational groups for a number of clinical purposes including: Social Skills Development, Stress Management, Adolescent Issues, and Adjustment to Divorce (among others).

Typically, each group is comprised of children or adolescents, ideally within a two- to three-year age span, who meet together once a week for fifty to sixty minutes. In general, our groups are on-going and have open-enrollment, meaning that individuals are welcome to join at any time and continue as long as is necessary to develop the skills or address clinical issues. Therapists select individuals for each group to complement skills and optimize treatment goals. While the number of participants in each group may vary, group size is limited to ensure maximum participation and individualized attention for each participant.

In order for an individual to join a group, the parents or caregivers must first have an initial meeting with the group facilitator to review pertinent information about the individual. During this meeting, the child/teen's emotional and behavioral functioning, strengths and weaknesses, social skills, and goals for group participation are discussed. Usually the therapist meets briefly at the end of this meeting with the child/teen in order to make a determination regarding the most appropriate group for him or her.

Adolescent Groups

Today's adolescents face numerous stressors new to their generation. With the explosion of rapid technology (internet, cell phones) and bombardment with media, more and more teens find it difficult to develop coping skills to appropriately evaluate the potential outcomes of the choices they make each day. Adolescents and children are inundated with pressures that they feel are insurmountable - from maintaining high grades, to participating in sports and after-school activities, plus the demands of family life. These stresors are combined with the current social environment that limits unscripted or "down" time interaction with familiar peers who may reside miles away instead of down the street.

These pressures can lead to behaviors that often worsen the situation. To address these issues, we've created Stress Management for Teens groups that are specifically geared toward learning effective stress management techniques. Members of the group learn to modify their behavior in effective and positive ways since they may not yet have achieved the emotional regulation and maturity to effectively manage their stress. Participants are guided to learn new skills and strategies such as "mindfulness" to manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors when faced with anxiety and/or difficult situations in school, with friends and family, and with relationships in general.

Children of Divorce

The Cadenza Center will offer a group for children of divorce. Participants will be both girls and boys in elementary and early adolescence. Groups will cover common issues and concerns including coping with two homes/two bedrooms, dealing with differences in house rules, communicating effectively with parents, accepting the reality of divorce, and much more.

Please call our offices to inquire about availability and current group sessions.

Play Therapy

Our first experiences of the world and how it works comes from our play. As young children, we explore our understanding of relationships, feelings, and expectations through manipulating toys and other childhood materials. Who doesn't have a favorite fond memory of their dearest teddy, doll, or truck? To children, these objects embody more than the physical manifestations they were intended to be.

Most children go through difficult times at some point in their lives. Among the most common issues are divorce in the family, trouble making friends or adjusting to changes at school or home. Some children need more help than others to get through these times. While children lack the ability to fully express themselves with words, most are fluent in the language of play. Through play and the experiences coming from them, children are able to confront fears, explore their relationships, and build coping skills that last a lifetime.

Play therapy is not the same thing as playing; it is more the equivalent of "talk therapy" for adults. Play therapy uses the child's natural tendency to "play out" their reactions to life situations, in the presence of a trained play therapist. It helps the child feel accepted and understood, and gain a sense of control or understanding of difficult situations. Utilizing play, a child's natural medium of expression, they can express their feelings more easily than through words.

Specialized Playrooms

The Cadenza Center has a dedicated play therapy room designed to facilitate childrens' creative and emotional expression. The toys available include a wide variety of typical toys found at home as well as specialized treatment-oriented play materials, including board games, dolls, vehicles, dress-up clothes, puppets, and more. These types of toys can be used in many different ways and therefore allow for children to make decisions and build on themes from session to session. The toys we use in play therapy are also very durable and sturdy to allow for repeated use and rough play.

Toys employed in play therapy typically fall into one of three categories:

Real-Life Toys: These are directly representative of real-world items. Examples include doll families, a dollhouse, puppets, cars, boats, airplanes, cash register, and play money.

Aggressive-Release Toys: These toys facilitate the release of emotions not allowed to be expressed in other settings. Toy soldiers, rubber knives, fake-looking toy guns, and things that can be destroyed such as paper, egg cartoons and popsicle sticks are in this category.

Creative Expression Toys: This category includes materials that allow for creativity and self-expression, including paints, crayons, sand, water, beads, stamps and stickers, and instruments.

Because play therapy is non-threatening and fun, you can expect your child to actually enjoy their time with the therapist. Cadenza Center therapists are experienced and have training to provide an environment of acceptance, empathy and understanding in the play room. The length of time a child is seen in play therapy varies from child to child, depending on factors such as the child's personality, how the child perceives their situation and individual diagnosis.

Who can benefit?

Good candidates for play therapy are generally:

  • younger children
  • those with cognitive deficits or developmental delays, and
  • those unable to adequately benefit from verbal psychotherapy.

The Cadenza Center clinicians typically use play as the main means of working with children under the age of 8. While children often participate in play therapy alone with the therapist, parents and other family members are often updated on their child's progress, techniques for supporting the child at home, and refining the family system to accommodate for these changes.

If you or other adults in your child's life are concerned about your child's behavior or coping, play therapy can help. It is the most appropriate treatment for helping your child work through difficult times and helping you gain a better understanding of what your child is going through.