What is following the child's lead in play therapy?

"Following the child's lead" is a technique in play-based therapy to let clients steer aspects of therapy to align with their interests and needs. Therapists and others support the child's interests and interactions, including the choice to change the focus of a particular activity. In many situations, this change in a session's dynamic can positively influence participation and behavior.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned working with children by following their lead:

  1. If I’m hitting a wall in therapy, sometimes the best thing to do is let the client take the lead if they’re able. The results can be productive and surprising!
  2. Children are capable of incredible creative thinking and problem-solving.
  3. Give the child space and/or time to express themselves; they’ll often say and do more.
  4. Some children respond better to therapy when they’re in charge or “teacher for the day.”
  5. Following someone's lead doesn't mean healthy boundaries and focused goals aren't included in an activity.
  6. Overall, following the child’s lead has taught me that children know what excites them most. Speech and language goals can be included in so many activities with quick thinking and imagination. 

Want to learn more about how Sidekick therapists use this technique and others in sessions? Reach out today.


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