New CARE facility houses play therapy program

In late August, John Brown University became the first university in Arkansas to have a facility dedicated to play therapy. The new C.A.R.E clinic, located directly across from the old building, aids hundreds of kids, while training graduate students to be play therapy certified.

“Play therapy is a form of psychotherapy which helps children process complex emotion through playing, a method which comes most naturally to children,” according to a JBU press release.

Nick Cornett, assistant professor of counseling, marriage and family, and family and play therapy, said that while adults typically use speech to communicate with counselors about their emotions, children in play therapy play or act their emotions, feelings or certain life situations.

“For a kid, [standard therapy techniques are] intimidating,” Cornett said. “Words and cognitive ability are more difficult.”

The play therapy rooms give children the opportunity to express themselves in a variety of ways, whether playing with blocks or painting a picture.

For example, children who were affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks erected buildings on visits to the C.A.R.E. clinic and then toppled them with toy airplanes or their own hands, Cornett said.

The new facility includes five suites: The Tucker Hill Play Therapy Wing, two sand tray rooms, two family-sized play therapy suites, and one parental consultation suite filled with flat screen TVs and cameras.

“The facility provides an environment most comfortable for children,” Cornett said.

The facility was made possible through John Carmack, chair of the division of counseling, who took the proposal to the board. The toys and flatscreen TVs were purchased with a grant given from the Soderquist Family Foundation.

The old C.A.R.E clinic still stands but is now used solely for adults.