Loyola Play Therapy Center Helps Families throughout the Pandemic
(New Orleans — February 8, 2021) It’s National Play Therapy Week (Feb. 6-12) and Loyola University New Orleans is celebrating its play therapy center, the third in the U.S. to be recognized, one of several dozen in the country and the first in Louisiana.
Throughout the pandemic, the Loyola Play Therapy Center has helped families and children to tackle tough issues, from anxiety and depression to coping with isolation. One of the longest-standing play therapy centers in the nation, the Loyola Play Therapy Center fills a critical community need, offering in-person services to New Orleans area residents with payments on a sliding scale basis. The center is part of the Loyola Center for Counseling and Education (LCCE), a community mental health clinic.
“Being able to provide play therapy has helped us to alleviate stress on New Orleans families during the pandemic, and in particular, help anxious children experiencing loneliness and other feelings that are hard to express,” said LeAnne Steen, founding director of the Loyola Play Therapy Center. “We offer individual and group child therapy, as well as parenting workshops and classes. No one is turned away for services.”
Staffed by Loyola graduate students in Counseling, the Loyola University New Orleans Play Therapy Center of Education and Research, founded by Steen in 2008, is the only center of its kind in Louisiana. It was the third play therapy center in the U.S. to be officially recognized and is one of 32 such centers in the nation. Less than 20 percent of accredited colleges and universities today offer play therapy instruction and supervised clinical experiences.
Play therapy is a form of mental health counseling or psychotherapy by which licensed mental health professionals incorporate the use of play to better communicate with and help clients achieve optimal mental health. Play therapists are trained in play therapy philosophy, theory, and facilitation. Mental health agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practitioners use play therapy as a primary intervention or as supportive therapy for children and families struggling with transitional life adjustments, emotional difficulties, behavioral problems, or disorders.
This spring, the center again received a three-year designation as an Approved Center of Play Therapy Education from the national Association for Play Therapy (APT). The Loyola Play Therapy Center was also renewed as an Approved Provider of Play Therapy Education for five years, the maximum allowable designation. Together, these designations allow the Loyola Play Therapy Center not only to provide play therapy services but to provide continuing education and professional development.
“Our continuing education program allows the Loyola Play Therapy Center to pollinate the region with professionals who know how to respond to children and families in crisis,” Steen said. “Each trained professional translates into literally hundreds of families and children affected by that individual.”
Thanks to generous donors and strategic partnerships, the Play Therapy Center recently received facility upgrades, including a new treatment center, that allows the center to serve more families and train graduates in an enriching professional environment.