Lisa DeGraff, LCSW
Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator
y therapeutic passion, what drives me and inspires me to continue my work as a clinician, is the use of play therapy with children, young adolescents, and families. The style of play therapy that I practice most often, and hold dear to my heart, is non-directive play therapy, a child-centered, child-directed approach. In alignment with my very own personal journey and values, the key principle of non-directive play therapy is to trust that the child is capable of finding his or her own answers and healing abilities.
The idea is that children will move through these challenges magnificently if given a trusting, safe, and secure environment to explore these facets within him or her through the medium of play. Because of this child-centered approach, I am able to accept and witness the magic that occurs when children are given unconditional acceptance and the trust to identify and move through confusing, painful or scary feelings towards confidence and acceptance of themselves and others. It is a beautiful thing to witness a child discover that they truly are their own “expert.”
From working as a child and family therapist, a teacher in a Montessori preschool, and most importantly as a parent to my own little one, I have gained tremendous empathy and a much deeper understanding of the child, parent, and family experience. The biggest lesson in my life to date is one that I continue to struggle with and delight in: viewing my life, and others’, as a process, a journey.
I have worked hard to follow my intuition and walk towards the path that provides me with further wisdom, enlightenment, belief in myself, trust in humanity, and growth that strengthens my roots, while allows my fruits to decay and blossom with the inevitable seasons. On this journey, I have acquired a medley of personal and professional experiences that have overjoyed me, challenged me, and ultimately guided me as a more self-aware, empathetic mental health practitioner.
My purpose is to create a comfortable atmosphere designed to create safety, inspire growth and self-expression, and to truly meet each child where he or she is. By preparing and nurturing this rich environment, I hope to see the most extraordinary pieces of a child emerge. As an advocate for the child and helping him or her to reach optimal functioning, I assist and encourage caregivers to create space for, witness, and support the child’s reflections and explorations in a safe and accepting atmosphere. My ultimate goal is to always have the powerful interpersonal and emotional connections and discoveries from the playroom recreated at home, in the space children need it the most.
Empirically proven and absolutely witnessed in my own experience working with kids, play therapy helps children:
- Safely process difficult, stressful experiences (e.g. separation/divorce, loss, life-changes, moving, new sibling, illness, abuse and violence, natural disasters, etc.)
- Effectively identify and express thoughts and feelings
- Be accountable for their behaviors
- Problem solve new, more effective strategies
- Gain social skills that improve relationships with others
- Increase empathy and respect towards others’ experience
- Strengthen belief and confidence in self