Dr. Kimberly Joiner King
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Dr. Kimberly Joiner King

What is play therapy?

Please note that the answers to these questions are my own opinion and may not represent the opinion of other mental health professionals.

Q: What is play therapy?

A: Play therapy is a form of therapy used with children. Before the age of 10, children have difficulty sitting still for long periods of time and have not developed abstract thought. Children naturally play out their world through toys. According to Piaget (1962), "play bridges the gap between concrete experience and abstract thought. In play, the child is dealing in a sensory-motor way with concrete objects that are symbols for something else the child has experienced directly or indirectly." In other words, as a therapist if I want to understand the world the child is experiencing I need to relate to them at their level through play.

Q: How does play therapy work?

A: As a registered and trained play therapist, I will work with your child using specific play therapy toys. Toys act as the words the child uses to express their world. I will use their play to assess and understand their feelings and experiences. By allowing the child to be in the lead, I am letting them tell me what is most important in their experiences. Through play therapy, children learn to cope with their emotions and world. Children gain more confidence and security while they resolve their concerns and change the way they think and feel towards problems. During the sessions, I will reflect your child's feelings through play and set limits when necessary. Through the themes and content your child displays and shares with me, you will begin to experience a change in your child's attitude at home. Your child will be able to cope with their emotions and relay their needs more appropriately to you. He/she will be develop self-esteem and self-confidence.

Q: What do I need for the first session?

A: You will need to bring a filled out intake form to the first session. We will then develop a plan for you and your child together. Because therapy is about the relationship between the therapist and client, this will be a good time to determine if we are a good fit together. If you are bringing your child for play therapy, I will want to meet with you and/or your partner alone for the first session so that we may discuss all the concerns you have regarding your child. Sometimes children are anxious in the first play therapy session and I may ask you or your partner to join us for the first few minutes so your child may get acclimated to therapy.

Q: When is counseling completed?

A: We will determine together the needs you may have in individual therapy. Once your goals have been met and you are feeling more secure and confident we can determine the length and/or how often you want to meet. Sometimes people may need only 3-4 sessions. On average most adults require 10-12 individual sessions. Other individuals want ongoing therapy for longer periods of time due to their psychology needs, diagnosis, or history.

In play therapy, the average number of sessions is 10-14 sessions. Usually a child begins to act out more after the first two sessions as the therapist has tapped into some of the pain the child is feeling. As time in play therapy continues, your child will usually begin to experience peace and you will see your child develop more self-control, confidence, and self-esteem. I have found some children may need to be in therapy up to 6 months if they have experienced any emotional or physical abuse or neglect.

Q: Is counseling confidential?

A: As a general rule, everything disclosed in a counseling session is confidential. However, there are some exceptions to this. For example, confidentially may be violated in the following situations: 1) if you express that you may harm yourself or someone else; 2) if you disclose abuse or neglect of a child, elderly, or disabled person; 3) if treatment records are requested by a subpoena; 4) in order to obtain payment for services rendered; 5) if evidence of treatment is requested by third party payers, i.e. insurance companies. Please note that this listing may not be exhaustive. If you have further questions, please see the privacy policy page or contact me for further information.


If you have any further questions please call 940.595.3219 or email kking@drkimberlyking.com for a no cost initial consultation. You can also find out more about play therapy at www.a4pt.org.


Landreth, G. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship, 2nd edition. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
Piaget, J. (1962). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. New York: Routledge.


Play Therapy >>
Play therapy is a form of therapy that developmentally meets the child’s needs at an emotional, behavioral, and cognitive level. Play therapy is based on the relationship between the therapist and the child, allowing the child to explore thoughts, feelings and experiences in their natural medium of play.

Group Therapy >>
Therapy delivered in a group setting of 3 - 10 members to explore, change, and develop interpersonal relationships through the realm of the group.

Individual Therapy >>
Focuses on resolving the issues that have brought you the counseling such as grief, anger, and childhood pain, and help you establish your life through a nurturing process.

Family Therapy >>
This type of therapy refers to involving the family in therapy to work on developing positive relationships and interactions between family members.


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