Many of you have probably seen Mary around the clinic. We wanted to officially welcome her to Cure 4 The Kids Foundation and find out a little more about the services she provides to patients. Mary’s title is behavioral health counselor, however, her license, credentials, and training allow her to provide specific practices and tools that we know will be immensely helpful to many of our patients.
Mary is a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) and a registered play therapist (RPT). She graduated with a Master of Arts degree (M.A.) in Clinical Psychology, so her credentials appear after her name like this: Mary Lehoux, M.A., LCPC, RPT.
Play therapy may not be as well known as other forms of therapy, so we wanted to gain a greater understanding of the practice and how it can benefit patients.
Cure 4 The Kids Foundation: Play therapy may be somewhat new to patients and parents. Can you help us understand the purpose of play therapy and how it helps a patient?
Mary Lehoux: Of course! In simple terms, child play therapy is a way of being with the child that honors their unique developmental level. In my play sessions, I therapeutically use play to assist in addressing the goals of each patient (most often children ages three to 12 years) and their family, to help them improve their ability to express themselves and resolve their problems.
For those seeking a more clinical explanation: the Association for Play Therapy defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth the development.”
Cure 4 The Kids Foundation: How is play therapy different from regular play?
Mary Lehoux: Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their problems. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others.
Cure 4 The Kids Foundation: In your opinion, why can play therapy be more advantageous than talk therapy?
Mary Lehoux: Play therapy is an evidence-based approach that is ideal for most young children because it is a way of delivering therapy in the “language” of the child (play). So, in the same way that talk therapy is a helpful way for some patients to communicate and process experiences, play therapy is another way to communicate and process these experiences at the level of the child. Play therapy also benefits patients by providing a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.
Cure 4 The Kids Foundation: How do you see your skills being helpful to patients?
Mary Lehoux: I engaged in extensive training and supervision to acquire the Registered Play Therapist credential. My background and training in play therapy includes both non-directive and directive approaches, which enables me to offer our patients and families a therapeutic setting that provides a sense of control, fosters freedom of expression, and teaches skills that promote emotional well-being and healing.
Cure 4 The Kids Foundation: Are you able to assist families of patients as well?
Mary Lehoux: Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels is the organization that has made this service possible, and allows me to provide therapy for any of our patients AND their family members. Amanda Hope’s mission made accessibility to therapy a priority for all children and families involved in our clinic.
Cure 4 The Kids Foundation: If a parent is interested in learning more about play therapy and whether it may benefit their child, what is the best way to reach out?
Mary Lehoux: Parents can reach out to their providers, or anyone in the clinic, and ask for Mary Lehoux. I can provide parents with informational brochures that detail more information about play therapy. Parents can also look online at www.a4pt.org for more information. I am in the clinic during regular business hours. I can often visit with patients and their families during their clinic visit, and help determine if play therapy would be beneficial for them.
Cure 4 The Kids Foundation: Thank you!
As Mary mentioned, Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels underwrite the cost of this incredible resource for patients of Cure 4 The Kids Foundation and their families. We wanted to find out a bit more about the organization and why they feel Mary’s services are so important. We spoke with Lorraine Tallman, who is the CEO and Founder of Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels, based in Phoenix, Arizona, and Kelley Nemiro, Chair of the Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels Nevada Advisory Committee.
Kelley: We wanted to provide Cure 4 The Kids Foundation access to a play therapist because we believe that healing goes so much further beyond the physical. With childhood cancer, the entire family takes a huge hit mentally and emotionally, and we wanted to make sure that all members were cared for, seen, and heard throughout the treatment journey.
Lorraine: I’ve met many Nevada warriors in Phoenix who were getting transplants and treatment. I have friends in Nevada as well, and I discovered our programs could bless several thousand children. Amanda, whose childhood cancer journey prompted the creation of our organization, dreamed of “Dignity and Respect” for patients like her, and advocating that “all questions are good” as a result of her experience. She felt it was important that patients have the coping skills to fight fear and to know that you have an entire community by your side your entire journey.
Cure 4 The Kids Foundation: We’ll encourage everyone to find out more about Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels by going to your website, but help us understand a little more about Amanda.
Lorraine: Amanda knew that connections with other warrior families was critical, and making the most of everyday was important – including planning a memory for each day. It could be planning a play date, a weekend away, working on crafts, a shopping day to use a gift card that was given to her, or spending time with friends that would come to see her or she would visit another child. Amanda was all about recognizing the small victories every day. Wake up every day- get dressed- believe and hope- smile- find laughter. Pray and listen to happy music. Every little thing helps. Amanda would say, “Big hugs,” and her sweet hug could bring me through anything.
Kelley: My experience in working with Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels and learning about Amanda is that in any time of difficulty, slowing down and taking joy and gratitude in the little things can always bring light to a dark situation. Having faith and hope is so important.
Cure 4 The Kids Foundation: I was surprised to learn that despite all the challenges going on with her cancer journey, Amanda was also thinking about how to provide patients a greater sense of dignity when undergoing chemotherapy.
Lorraine: Amanda hated her body being exposed to everyone in a chemo clinic, so she had a dream to have a tee-shirt with peek-a-boo pockets for all of the tubes that came out of her body. By having to lift or take off her shirt for all to see, there was a loss of dignity, and in many ways, Amanda felt that her voice was taken away. Her experience led to this: Comfycozy for Chemo. It empowers our children to have a choice in their care, and in some cases has allowed for fewer drugs needed to calm patients down when their port is accessed. Voice and choice is a fantastic gift to a child who is fighting for their life.
Kelley: Through the shirt, we feel we are creating a situation that upholds dignity and respect for the children. The zippers at the collar provide easy port access, so the child does not have to undress to get labs drawn or have a treatment done. They also come in a bunch of fashionable styles for children of all ages.
Cure 4 The Kids Foundation: Thank you for all you do to support Cure 4 The Kids Foundation!