Playing Together Apart


Playing Together Apart

Figuring Out Teletherapy for Kids

By Martha Straus, Kathryn O’Neil

May/June 2020


When COVID-19 hit our rural corner of New England and psychotherapists moved online en masse, those of us who work with kids started fretting. Many of our younger clients lived without computers in their homes, without good internet, without supportive parents, without privacy, maybe even without safety. And these children were already challenging enough to contain and engage in a carefully appointed playroom. What therapeutic interventions might we try online with the kids who could and should continue to have support from us through the pandemic?

I posed this question to Eli, a bright, rambunctious, eight-year-old I treat, who, like many of his peers, is amphibious in his ability to move fluidly between screen and face-to-face interaction. He stared at me a minute and then shrugged—a lot like my IT guy does when I ask a silly question. “We can FaceTime,” he replied, as if that were the most obvious solution in the world.

“But,” I persisted, “what will we do on FaceTime? Could we build with Legos and play Memory together? What do you think will be fun for us to do?” Eli wandered around my office, making a final inspection tour of the room before we stopped meeting in person for who knows how long. He smiled affectionately and reassured me, “Don’t worry, Marti, we’ll figure it out.” And, though it’s been just…

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2 Comments

Friday, July 3, 2020 1:13:06 PM | posted by Margarita Hernandez
Very helpful, informative, and reassuring. Will definitely use some of the suggested strategies. I, too,was initially skeptical and reluctant about play teletherapy, however the past two months, have shown that it can be and is of value. Thank you both. Great article.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020 3:35:00 PM | posted by Denise Buckingham
Excellent read! Thank you for sharing your personal experience. Appreciated.