Q&A: How To Engage A Client Who Colors Silently (And How To Explain It To Their Parents!)

Apr 28, 2023

Jen in the UK emailed me with the following question: “I have several recent new clients who are choosing to be silent colorers in my room. I’m spending a lot of time tracking coloring behaviour and wondering if I’m doing anything at all! That’s not strictly true, as I do believe and feel that embodying the ‘be attitudes’ and being truly present with the children in relative silence is giving them what they need at the time. They don’t want to leave and seem happy to come. I also trust that at some point the nature of the sessions will shift. I guess I would feel more confident knowing what other NDCCPT therapists believe or do in these situations. I also wonder what their parents will think when children say, ‘I coloured for an hour without talking!’ And, can a therapist color too? There’s also the issue of working with selective mutism which is not uncommon in our child population in London.”

I answer her questions and go into the following topics:

– What is the “Why” behind their play
– The purpose and intent of the child-centered process
– The therapist’s role

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  • Cochran, N., Nordling, W., & Cochran, J. (2010). Child-Centered Play Therapy (1st ed.). Wiley.
  • VanFleet, R., Sywulak, A. E., & Sniscak, C. C. (2010). Child-centered play therapy. Guilford Press.
  • Landreth, G. L. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (2nd ed.). Brunner-Routledge.
  • Bratton, S. C., Landreth, G. L., Kellam, T., & Blackard, S. R. (2006). Child parent relationship therapy (CPRT) treatment manual: A 10-session filial therapy model for training parents. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Benedict, Helen. Themes in Play Therapy. Used with permission to Heartland Play Therapy Institute.
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