Phone: +1 (209) 262-4387

Hours: Mon-Sat: 9 am to 7 pm

Play Therapy

Play Therapy is much more than fun and games. Play Therapy is a counseling approach used to help children ages 3 to 12 explore their lives and freely express bottled-up thoughts and emotions through play. Therapeutic play normally takes place in a safe, comfortable playroom encouraging free expression and allowing the therapist to observe the child’s choices, decisions, and play style. The goal is to help children learn to express themselves in healthier ways, become more emotionally balanced, and develop new and more positive ways to interact with others.

According to the professional organization Play Therapy International, up to 71 percent of children referred to play therapy may experience positive change.



Play Therapy responds to the unique developmental needs of young children, who often express themselves better through play activities than through verbal communication. The therapist uses play and other creative activities to communicate with the child and observe how the child uses these activities to express thoughts and feelings that are not expressed in words. There are two approaches to play therapy, nondirective and directive:


  • Nondirective Play Therapy is based on the principle that children can resolve their own issues given the right conditions and the freedom to play with limited instruction and supervision.
  • Directive Play Therapy has specific goals in mind each session. Using a carefully developed Treatment Plan that focuses on target behaviors and issues. The therapist can introduce new skills and adaptive behaviors to rehearse during sessions. Play therapists use both approaches, depending on the circumstances.


Nondirective play therapists are trained to trust that children are capable of directing their own process rather than the therapist imposing their own ideas of what the child needs to do in therapy to work through any challenges they may be facing. This requires the therapist to enter the emotional world of the child rather than expecting the child to understand the therapist’s world, which is beyond their capabilities.


Facts You Should Know About Play Therapy

Children do not always have the language skills to convey what they are feeling in words. In play therapy, the therapist provides children with a more adaptive method of express themselves – the language of play. Play therapists are specially trained to understand, interpret, and respond to children’s play communications.

The brain is plastic and is molded by our experiences. The brain is most plastic during childhood and the teenage years. A child’s brain can rewire itself through the new positive experiences learned in the therapy playroom. By keeping a consistent safe relationship and environment contained in the playroom, play therapists strengthen these new neural pathways in the brain. The child gets to experience the feeling of safety and connection and gains a sense of inner security.

Depending on the child and the situation, the therapist will either guide the child toward certain methods of play or let them choose for themselves. There are any number of ways the therapist can use play therapy to get to know the child and help them cope with their problems. For example, the therapist might offer the child a dollhouse and some dolls, asking them to act out some problems they have at home. Or they might encourage the child to use hand puppets to recreate something they found stressful or frightening.

Play therapy will differ depending on the therapist and the particular needs of the child. To begin, the therapist may want to observe the child at play. They may also want to conduct separate interviews with the child, parents, or teachers. Play therapists pay close attention to how a child handles being separated from the parent, how they play alone, and how they react when the parent returns. Much can be revealed in how a child interacts with different types of toys and how their behavior changes from session to session. They may use play to act out fears and anxieties, as a soothing mechanism, or to heal and problem-solve.

Play Therapy is based on the theory that play is a child’s language, the toys in the playroom consider the words a child uses to express their inner experiences and how they perceive and experience the world. The toys in the playroom are then used by the child to speak to the therapist and communicate their inner thoughts and feelings. Within a therapy session, and over the course of sessions, themes emerge in the child’s play, giving the therapist insight into the child’s experiences, thoughts, feelings, and interpretations of their world.

Professional Therapy with a Client Focus

There are times in life when we can feel off balance and can’t seem to snap out of it. When our own natural support system just isn’t enough, it may be time to reach out to a professional counselor to start the process of therapy. We have created a safe, comfortable and professional environment to discuss the issues in your life. We recognize the importance of a good therapeutic relationship and strive to build a positive rapport. We treat each client with respect and dignity.


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Dimensions Of Play Therapy

Play Therapy is an effective technique for helping children who need to be treated for behavioral problems. It’s also good for those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Depression. It’s often used for children who have been the victims of abuse too. They’re able to express themselves through play when not able to verbally express various emotions. The type of play is aimed towards developing certain skills as well as allowing a form of expression. Listed are some dimensions of play therapy:

Creative Play For Expressing Emotions

Drawing and painting allow the child to express sometimes difficult and embarrassing feelings that are hard to verbalize. The use of drawing or painting may be part of a free-style technique or the therapist might ask the child to draw a specific image or feeling, which is a way for the therapist to direct the play to reach a clinical objective.

Developing Social Skills

Children live in a social world and yet can really struggle getting along with peers and family members. The therapist can utilize play that reinforces social skills such as building empathy, reading social cues and setting boundaries. Sessions are designed to be age appropriate, fun and non-threatening. The therapist can introduce dolls, puppets or other toys that represent people or other children to replicate social situations during role play.

Building Self Esteem

The use of labeled praise during a session can reinforce self-esteem for a child, coming from both the therapist and the parent. This can be done with drawing or other activities that generate a sense of independence and self-accomplishment.

Improved Communication

The therapist will have a variety of exercises to encourage the growth of an emotional vocabulary for the child. Role play, story-telling and imaginary play are ways for a child to create a narrative that describes the pain they may have been holding on to and need to release in order to move forward and heal.

Dealing With Grief From A Loss

Grief and loss are very difficult emotions, especially for young children who are not emotionally mature to make sense of a trauma. Therapists can use different techniques to help young kids process pain. Sometimes clay is used to allow the child to express difficult emotions. They can direct the child to smooth the clay, punch it to release their anger or express frustration by stretching and ripping it.

Some of the potential benefits to a child from engaging in play therapy are:

  • Taking More Responsibility For Certain Behaviors
  • Developing Coping Strategies And Creative Problem-solving Skills
  • Increasing Self-respect
  • Gaining Empathy And Respect For Others
  • Reducing The Symptoms Of anxiety
  • Learning To Fully Experience And Express Feelings
  • Building Stronger Social Skills
  • Enhancing Family Relationships


Parental Distress

Normal parenting includes concerns about growth and development, child behavioral and social issues, emotional well-being of the child, and financial responsibilities. These concerns alone can result in parental distress. Additional stressors for parents of a child with mental health problems, however, increase parental distress significantly. Challenges experienced by caregivers of children with mental health problems have been associated with parental distress and feelings of being stretched beyond their limits.

Parents caring for children with mental health problems are extremely challenged in getting both their child’s and their own needs met.

  • Parents with emotionally challenged children will report their lives being dominated by their child’s intense emotions and problematic behaviors.
  • Parents searching for direction, guidance, and practical advice can feel overwhelmed and confused.
  • Parents of dysregulated children often report anger, sadness, and guilt, which can result in abuse.
  • These parents also report being blamed for their child’s behaviors by family members, school staff, and even by mental health professionals, lowering their self-esteem and confidence.


Play therapy can also benefit a parent of a distressed child. The parent or caregiver will receive support from the therapist while working on the symptoms of the child. By participating in the development of new and more effective patterns of behavior, the parent can reduce friction in their life too. The parent starts encouraging and validating self-expression and emotional effectiveness in their child and can become the agent of change, as much or more than the therapist. The bond of parent and child can normalize and grow into a much happier and healthier relationship.


Our Team

Our mission is to improve the quality of lives for individuals with behavioral and emotional challenges by providing exceptional mental health services using the most up-to-date, evidence-based practices helping our clients to become more active and productive members of the community.
Mae Grimme

MSW, Registered Associate CSW

Sasha Jackson


Valerie Lamke


Eric Garcia

MA, Registered Associate PCC

Samantha Moreno

MSW, Registered Associate CSW

Alana Quinones

MA, Registered Associate MFT

Bergen Filgas


Brenda Estrada Ramirez

MA, Registered Associate MFT

About us

Abalance Client-Centered Counseling Modesto California Office -1
Abalance Client-Centered Counseling Modesto California - General 7

Why choose a therapist at Abalance Client-Centered Counseling?

Our office is dedicated to providing the best mental health services to ALL people in our community regardless of income.

We have a team of professionals that are continually sharpening their skills as mental health providers and attend regular training from the Clinical Director. Having a competent and knowledgeable therapist is only part of it.

We are also a group of caring and compassionate people that strive to make your time with us a safe, comfortable and rewarding experience.

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression Disorders
  • LGBTQ+ Gender Issues
  • Play Therapy
  • Child Disruptive Behavior
  • Childhood Trauma

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Abalance Client-Centered Counseling is accepting new clients in all three (3) of our Central Valley locations in Modesto, Merced, and Turlock California.

No. You can contact us directly and we will get your insurance eligibility established and schedule your first appointment. Your Health Plan may require an additional call to get a registration number after you have already established as a client in our office. We have a team here to help guide you through these things if you need assistance.

Yes, we currently accept HPSJ and CCAH MediCal Insurances only. For other insurances, we provide an out-of-network option for you to bill your insurance and get reimbursed for up to 80% of your therapy costs in our offices.

No, we treat mild/moderate symptoms for a variety of issues, but not alcohol and drug issues. If you have an addiction or are seeking sobriety, we refer out to a professional that treats substance abuse.

Weekly sessions are the best care option for mental health outcomes, but we also provide an every other week option, or Teletherapy if you have a hectic schedule.

We can see clients as young as 2 years old. A session is a once a week appointment lasting 50 minutes.

Yes. Our staff can get you in touch with the transportation coordinator from your Health Plan to arrange necessary transportation to-and-from the therapy office.

The Best Thing In Play Therapy

We have advanced training in play therapy and utilize several treatment options to best fit the needs of our youngest clients. We have specially designed Play Therapy Rooms at each office, dedicated to enriching the therapy experience and reaching our goals.

why choose us

Abalance Client-Centered Counseling is dedicated to providing effective mental health counseling to our community in the Central Valley.


We have over 15 years of clinical experience to provide the most effective treatment options. Our team of therapists have specialized training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Play Therapy.

About Us


We recognize the importance of a good therapeutic relationship and strive to build a positive rapport with each client. And we treat each client with respect and dignity.

Well Counseling

You will learn skills of mindfulness and how to balance thoughts and feelings; and begin to build insight into your issues and have a plan to reinforce your goals.


Teletherapy is provided by using long-distance technologies so that clients and therapists do not have to be in the same place at the same time.

Transportation Assistance

Transportation is provided by your Health Plan. If you have problems with getting to your appointments, we are able to help arrange a ride.

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Our office is dedicated to providing the best mental health services to ALL people in our community regardless of income.

Abalance Client-Centered Counseling
Offices Located Throughout The Central Valley California

Phone: (209) 262-4387


SATURDAY: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

SUNDAY: Closed

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