Recently Frisco resident Anne Watts was working with a 3-year-old girl who was having difficulty dealing with the death of a sibling.
Understandably, the girl couldn’t properly articulate her emotions. But Watts took the girl under her wing and through play therapy was able to help the child cope with and manage her feelings.
“She was crying every day and was acting out by hitting people,” Watts said. “Through play therapy, the crying became less frequent and the girl learned how to control her emotions.”
Watts, a Franklin, Va., native, has been working with children since she moved to Summit County about five years ago. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from James Madison University and a master’s from the University of Denver.
In addition, Watts holds an advanced certificate as a clinical social worker from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies and last week earned her certificate in Synergetic Play Therapy from the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado.
Synergetic Play Therapy is a theoretically based approach intended to help children address a variety of physical, emotional and developmental conditions through the universal language of play. Although still a relatively new treatment option, Synergetic Play Therapy has been credited with helping young children recover from physical abuse or cope with domestic violence in the home, divorcing parents, trauma, sibling rivalry and a host of other issues, Watts said.
“Even though children may not yet be able to verbalize how they are feeling, they know how to articulate their emotions through play,” Watts said. “Synergetic Play Therapy is a tool to help kids develop a greater sense of self-awareness and learn better ways to control and deal with their emotions.”
Watts has experience working with children as a counselor in the Summit School District, but her dream was to open her own business dedicated to assisting troubled children through play therapy. Although she opened an office in June in Frisco, receiving her certificate in Synergetic Play Therapy marked the final piece of her professional puzzle.
“I made the shift because this is the work that inspires me the most,” Watts said. “I get to work with kids on a deeper level and I’ve seen how effective play therapy can be.”
Watts, who speaks Spanish and English, works with families and children 13 and younger. Synergetic Play Therapy was designed as a short-term intervention tool, and most children learn to cope with their problems after just 15 sessions, Watts said. Sessions last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.
“Anne is such a gift to the children and parents she works with. Being a mother herself, she intimately understands the challenges that come along with parenting and has the compassion to help other parents along their own journeys,” said Lisa Dion, director of the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado and creator of Synergetic Play Therapy. “Her own love for children and their healing process, along with a strong skill and understanding of what it takes for a child to truly heal separates her apart in the play therapy field.”
Watts is currently accepting new clients at her new office, 721 Granite St., Suite 204 in Frisco, but spaces are limited. For more information about Synergetic Play Therapy as a treatment option or to set up an appointment, contact Watts at 485-5202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.