Play Therapy For Kids 3-12 online or in O’Fallon MO

Evidence-Based Child Therapy


Deborah Woods, NCC helps kids use their most comfortable means of solving life’s problems — play is problem-solving.

Why play? KIDS MUST PLAY to figure things out.


Consider this. When a mom is trying to make sense of a personal struggle, she talks it over with a trusted friend. When a child is trying to work out a big feeling, he plays about it until it makes sense. Kids share what’s on their hearts most easily and naturally in play where they feel safe and comfortable.

Kids who can’t play have a much more difficult time solving problems and managing their troubling emotions. This means they act out more. They have difficulty adapting well to new situations. They get anxious, disrespectful, withdraw, shut down, or meltdown.

Play is how kids learn best. They simply don’t have the brain development to reflect on their life experiences, express their concerns in appropriate adult language and problem-solve to make good decisions.


Our thoughts run along pathways in our brains. New thoughts and behavior requires new neural pathways. Play creates new pathways in the brain faster than any other type of learning activity. When kids play they learn new things faster and easier and are able to retain them because their brains are wired to learn best through play.


Deborah invites kids to participate at their own pace. Because they choose their own pace, kids feel engaged and willing to work. A child who feels pushed to talk or rushed to share before ready will clam up and refuse to participate in the change process. That makes sense because after all, we have taught them not to talk to strangers. When a child first comes to counseling, the whole situation feels new and strange. Respecting their pace, helps kids open up.


Deborah has a generous variety of carefully selected tempting toys she’s chosen to encourage therapeutic play and the natural expression of a wide variety of emotions. Kids are empowered to express their big feelings. Deborah helps kids understand the emotions they’re expressing. Kids find effective and creative solutions that are right for them. They discover they have control over themselves and their choices. Kids leave feeling empowered to make good decisions.


In Deborah’s playroom, kids discover ways to express their big and painful emotions without acting out or being disrespectful because she notices and names their feelings, “You’re disappointed those won’t fit together the way you want.”

As children hear Deborah name the feelings they express in play, they begin to use feeling words themselves. “Mama, I felt disappointed.” This pairing of words and experience means less acting out at home and school as kids are equipped with the language to share their feelings respectfully.


In Deborah’s play therapy room, kids discover how to accept limits and boundaries. This means more cooperation outside of the playroom. Deborah’s artful balance in setting firm and kind limits helps kids who need to challenge the boundaries, stay safe and still feel cared for and accepted. Keeping kids safe while helping them feel accepted is especially critical for kids who have a hard time containing and regulating their anger. Kids who learn to accept limits in the playroom, find it easier to cooperate outside the playroom.


In a play session, kids are encouraged to make child sized decisions. This is especially important for kids struggling with shyness and lack of confidence. Because Deborah creates freedom within the limits, a dollhouse can become a baby bed. A crocodile can become a people eating monster or a playmate. Kids who discover how to make decisions in the playroom, make good decisions outside of the playroom.


Because Deborah uses child-centered play therapy, kids never feel pushed to talk about things they’re not able to put into words. The play isn’t just a way to get kids coming to therapy— the play, and the way Deborah responds to the play, is the therapy!

Deborah uses the specific skills of child-centered play therapy to leverage the power of play to help kids tap into their own storehouse of inner resources. Research evidence and outcome studies have proven child-centered play therapy is a highly effective way of helping kids with the full range of concerns that bring kids to therapy. With all the training and experience Deborah has had in using child-centered play therapy over the past 30 years, kids and moms notice the remarkable difference.

Here’s what kids have to say about play therapy with Deborah Woods:

“This is the best place ever! Can I come every day Mom?”

“Mrs. Deborah, I told my brother he should come here cause this place is awesome!”

“Mrs. Deborah, this place is kind of like a garbage dump. The feelings I don’t like, I just leave here. That feels good.”

“Me and my mom love our special play times at home now. Thanks Mrs. Deborah.”

“Mrs. Deborah, I can handle anything now.”

Deborah Woods, NCC helps kids:

  • Build self confidence.
  • Stop acting out.
  • Accept discipline and limits.
  • Make smart choices.
  • Face fears with confidence.
  • Respect themselves and others.
  • Negotiate and resolve conflicts.
  • Handle frustration.
  • Calm themselves.
  • Adjust their behavior.
  • Regulate their own emotions and impulses.
  • Resolve traumatic experiences without being re-traumatized.


Kids use play in therapy to:

  • Stay interested and involved in the therapy process as they learn and grow
  • Change what is hard to manage in reality into easy to manage play scenarios
  • Safely explore their big and “hard to put into words” emotions
  • Consider new possibilities, solutions, and ways of being
  • Have fun and bounce back after a time of stress


Give me a call at 636-795-3155 and arrange a free get acquainted conversation to discuss how you can help your child use play therapy to find his own solutions to the things that are getting in the way of his happiness and success.

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Reach out to Deborah

Your child matters and so do you. Let’s hop on a call to continue the conversation. Call me at 636-795-3155 to schedule your free get acquainted conversation TODAY.