Much of Maps’ expansion is in service of improving and expanding the treatment of children and adolescents. Maps works closely with our schools and with agencies like the Division of Child and Youth Services to identify children who have serious mental health difficulties or are victims of abuse or neglect. Every day they receive referrals of children who have been badly traumatized. They are also seeing more referrals of children who have emotional and behavioral problems, such as children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, or children with depression.
Working with children, especially young children, has special challenges. Children do not respond to traditional talk therapy. Instead, the child therapist works in an environment that more closely resembles a classroom. They use therapeutic play, games and art to help the child express their pain or to learn critical adaptive skills.
Maps is building a facility that is child friendly and provides their child specialists with the tools and resources to be more effective. Central to that is the creation of a therapeutic play-therapy room & resource center.
At Maps, much of the treatment of children is based on play-therapy. Through play-therapy, therapists use the child’s stories, creativity, and the symbolic meaning of the child’s play to understand their experiences and to communicate important feelings and beliefs. One example of this is sand-tray therapy. Using a simple box filled with sand, the child is invited to create a story using miniature figures and objects. The scenario they create tells us much about what they are going through emotionally. Anxious children, for example, might depict a small animal being chased by a lion. However they express themselves, the scenes they create offer the therapist an opportunity to better understand the child, and to introduce healing elements into their story.
The availability of a well-designed play-therapy room can greatly facilitate communication by fostering relaxation for the child and enhancing their desire to play. Every element in the room tells the child that this is their space and invites them to explore and to define their experience in ways that feel safe. The Maps play-therapy room will be enhanced with many features to interest the child and to improve the quality of the care we provide. Wall murals, depicting animals or inviting landscapes will signal a place of imagination. On one side, a playhouse designed to look like a tree will offer a place to climb or to hide. There will be an entire sand-tray ensemble, and cabinets filled with therapeutic games, toys and art supplies. Many of these resources are expensive, but by having them in the children’s play therapy/resource room, other therapists can borrow these resources to use in their offices. Through sharing, Maps is able to provide a wide range of resources at much lower cost.
The cost to design and fully equip the Maps Therapeutic Play-therapy & Resource Room is $25,000.