Airmid Children’s Play Therapy Center
Airmid has served children since the inception of our practice in 2016. We have four play-therapy therapists to provide evidence-based therapies for children and adolescents.
We’re very excited to announce the opening of our new Children’s Play Therapy Center with four play therapy rooms, incorporating traditional Play and Sand Tray Therapy, puppets and art as well as our SMART Moves Therapy Room. SMART stands for Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment, an innovative mental health therapy, facilitated by our experienced counselors and designed for children and adolescents who have experienced complex stress and traumatic exposures including medical procedures, loss, neglect, emotional maltreatment, physical abuse, accidents, severe bullying, witness to violence in the home or community, or impaired caregiving due to medical or mental illness, incarceration, or substance abuse. All of us at Airmid are committed to supporting families and children in their healing journey.
Our SMART Moves Program provides the opportunity for the child to practice making better choices, ways to self-regulate and to co-regulate with a parent. Through movement and sensory experiences, the child is able to find balance for their system and then to process their concerns, struggles and traumas.
The SMART Moves approach does not rely on language or a verbal narrative of the event. Through the embodied play engaging the sensory, motor, limbic, and arousal systems for self-exploration, a coherent understanding of their feelings surrounding the event emerges.
Our SMART Moves Program also facilitates attachment-building between the child and caregiver and builds strategies and self and other-regulation toolboxes that can be easily built into the daily routine at home to further support the healing process.
In this safe space kids can practice being successful, learn what their bodies and brains need for calming and expressing larger feelings like anger and jealousy and frustration in a safe, therapeutic space. The SMART moves room also provides the child with an internal sense of competence and builds the child’s positive sense of self.
SMART Moves has been listed as an Evidence Based Practice with the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness and in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.
When a child first steps into the SMART Moves Therapy Room the first thing they feel are the 2” thick gym mats below their feet. Wall to wall mats fill the room with large soft pillows and yoga balls. The room has a tent, swing, ball pit and spinners. Everything in this room has been chosen as a somatic (body) tool to support the child in working through struggles, traumatic events and to express large feelings and learn healthy ways to self-regulate.
A four year-old child stood on a wide balance beam and then there it was, the trampoline. For that moment nothing else and no one else existed, just him and the trampoline. Jumping up and down and up and down several times until he spotted the ball pit. After five high jumps, he pushed himself off the trampoline and landed in a soft ball pit. Splashing around as if in a pool he dove under the ball and then projected his head through the multicolored plastic balls to announce his victorious jump into the “quicksand” and his ability to pull himself out and onto the mats.
This four year-old continued to create situations that challenged him both physically and mentally learning that he could figure out how to manage tough things like returning to school after two years of COVID isolation.
In a different session, another child entered the room, began to throw and hit the large pillows and yoga balls. She jumped on the trampoline and into the crash pad. The SMART moves therapy room enabled her to find ways to express her fear, anger and sadness over being bullied in school. The therapist was able to support her in expressing these intense feelings in a safe way. She was then able to self-regulate by swinging in the hammock swing wrapped in a weighted blanket.
Play Therapy builds on the natural way children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world. Toys act as children’s words and the play helps children to explore their feelings and behaviors and learn new ways to communicate with others and learn healthy ways to problem solve.
Sand Tray Therapy
Sand tray is a recognized therapeutic modality for both children and adults (Kalff, 1996). Sand tray work is useful for identifying and reconciling internal conflicts that manifest as anxiety and depression. An unconscious problem is played out in the sand tray. It provides a way for material from the unconscious to become visible, healed, and integrated into the consciousness, thus allowing life to be lived in a more conscious and authentic way.