Dr. Amy Wickstrom is a licensed Marital and Family Therapist and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor in private practice. She founded More Than a Toy in 2009 to teach parents how to have better relationships with their children and improve their behavior through play. Dr. Wickstrom was the "Family Expert" on KSON country radio station in San Diego and has been featured on NBC News. Her research and writing on play therapy is published in professional journals and clinical books, and she speaks at local and nationwide conferences, churches, schools, and non-profit organizations on topics relating to parenting, toys, play, and child therapy.
A few years ago, a little boy was brought to me by his parents because he witnessed a hold up at a grocery store. Two armed men walked into the store while he was at the check out with his father, and the two men held up the cashier at gun point. Though no one was hurt, his parents were concerned about him because he never talked about it. They wanted me to make sure he was okay.
In my first session with him, he found two small bear dolls, lined them up on the edge of the sandbox, and shot them repeatedly with the dart gun. He never said a word, and he never played with anything else.
When the second session started, he immediately walked over to the dart gun and the dolls and started to do the same thing all over again, but this time he would take breaks to play with other things.
When he returned for the third session, he instantly picked up the two bear dolls, lined them up on the edge of the sandbox, and grabbed the dart gun. Then he stopped, looked at me, and said, “I don’t need these anymore. I’m okay.” He went on to play with other toys for the remainder of the session.