Helping kids cope may not be easy, but county officials are hoping the answer is child’s play. “Children have their own language,” said Sarah Holland, peer support specialist at Crossroads Area Veterans Center. Saturday, the Crossroads Area Veterans Center will debut the first session of a new therapy program just for kids, Holland said. Although play therapy, which is free for children and their parents, is currently only open to the children of women who have served in the military or who are spouses or widows to veterans, Holland said the program may expand. “If it’s successful, we can do more,” she said.
Play therapy will be funded by the Veteran’s Mental Health Grant, which funds numerous other services at the Crossroads Area Veterans Center. This year’s $75,000 grant, which ends June 30, provided about $1,000 for one month of play therapy services from Brenda Whitfield, South Texas Christian Ministries. That vastly discounted price was provided by Whitfield as a favor to the veterans center, Holland said. Whitfield will help kids work through their issues by observing them as they play with her collection of age-appropriate toys, Holland said.Because kids can sometimes have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings, observing playtime can act as a window into their minds.
Although the center offers a variety of mental health programs, such as equine and yoga therapies, play therapy marks the center’s first program designed specifically for children, Holland said. That approach is about helping not only veterans but also family members who live with and love them, she said. “If the veteran has PTSD, their anger issues roll out, and that affects not only the veteran but also the family,” Holland said. “We just want to care for the whole family unit.”
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