Play therapy is more than babysitting amid colorful clutter. It is a rich therapy tradition with a long history of research and use, requiring a skilled dance between therapist and client. Play therapy lets young people speak through actions — it lets them communicate complex feelings, experiences and emotions through metaphor.
In addition to engaging children in communication, play therapy brings actions and emotions into the room. For example, instead of talking about a child’s difficulties to self-regulate, a skilled play therapist may allow his or her client to become slightly dysregulated during therapeutic play. This allows the therapist and client to work together in a situation that is much more “real” than talk alone to discover and practice skills for self-regulation. Play requires focus, resilience and social communication.
If managed well, it takes empathy and creativity and planning. As therapists, parents and teachers, these are the skills we want our kids to master. Intentional and educated play therapy is wonderful way to teach this mastery.
Dr. Kristi Pikiewicz earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, CA. She completed pre-doctoral training at the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center in Ojai, CA, and her post-doctoral internship at the Boulder Institute for Psychotherapy and Research. At both sites, Dr. Pikiewicz worked with a range of adult, adolescent and child clients in individual, couples, family and group settings. She also holds a B.S. with a major in environmental science from Allegheny College and an elementary education teaching credential from Western Washington University.
Dr. Pikiewicz’s first career was in education. Through her mid 20s, she taught at an experiential science school from September through May and guided for Outward Bound Colorado during the summers. After earning her teaching credential, Dr. Pikiewicz worked as a grant-funded literacy specialist in a struggling California middle school and then as a 6th grade teacher in Bozeman, MT. During this time, Dr. Pikiewicz used her classroom to pilot innovative teaching programs, which she presented at local and national conferences and published with a variety of educational publishers. However, while she felt effective at meeting her students’ educational needs, her heart was drawn toward working with the emotional needs of her students and their parents. It was the desire to heal the root causes of the difficulties faced by her students and their parents that led Dr. Pikiewicz to transition from education to psychotherapy.
Dr. Pikiewicz now works with adult, adolescent and child clients in Boulder, Colorado.
Dr. Pikiewicz is experienced with a variety of psychological and educational assessment and testing tools, especially including measures of IQ, spectrum disorder, dyslexia, parent stress, and parent-child attachment. She has widely published and presented her research with trauma and posttraumatic growth in parents of chronically ill children, including at conferences of the American Psychological Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It is her passion to support children and parents to in their growth toward connection, regulation, creativity, relationships and joy.
- Member of the American Psychological Association
- Editor of the APA Div 39 (Psychoanalysis) monthly publication InSight
Please visit her website at www.kristipikiewicz.com