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Colorful Indoor Playground

ABA Therapy vs. Play Therapy

Understanding Therapy through a Different Lens

In the serene quiet of a typical morning, imagine two children at play, each absorbed in a world crafted from imagination and guidance. This scene, peaceful and full of potential, mirrors the essence of our therapeutic approach at Accel Therapies. Here, we blend the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with the creativity of play therapy, shaping environments where children can thrive.


What is ABA Therapy?

At Accel Therapies, we see Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as more than just a therapy; it's a journey toward understanding and enhancing the social, academic, and daily living skills of children with autism spectrum disorder. ABA therapy utilizes careful behavior analysis to build a tailored approach for each child, focusing on essential communication skills and positive reinforcement to encourage desirable behaviors. Each board-certified behavior analyst is an expert in dissecting complex behaviors and implementing strategies that lead to meaningful changes in everyday life.

Key Components of ABA Therapy

ABA therapy at our center is built on a foundation of evidence-based practices. We emphasize several core components:

  • Positive Reinforcement: Each child’s engagement is met with positive reinforcement, which may include praise, toys, or other rewards to strengthen good behaviors.

  • Behavior Analysis: Our trained therapists observe and analyze the child’s behavior to identify triggers of inappropriate behaviors and to develop strategies to address them.

  • Social Skills Development: Through interaction within therapy sessions and community settings, children improve their social skills, which are crucial for everyday interactions.

Addressing these elements, we aim to alter specific behaviors and enhance the overall well-being of the children we work with.

We Accept Most Major Insurance Plans

What is Play Therapy?

Play therapy at Accel Therapies is grounded in the belief that play is the natural language of children. It’s where our trained therapists help children express what they may be unable to articulate through words. This form of therapy, particularly child-centered play therapy, defines play therapy as a safe environment for children to address and resolve psychosocial difficulties, such as those stemming from traumatic events or domestic violence. The role of trained play therapists is pivotal in guiding these sessions to ensure they are both therapeutic and suited to the child's developmental level.

Key Components of Play Therapy

The key elements that define play therapy include:

  • Therapeutic Powers of Play: Utilizing toys, art supplies, and games, play therapists help children explore emotions and cope with unresolved trauma.

  • Interpersonal Process: Through play, children learn to express themselves, develop new coping mechanisms, and enhance their language skills and social play.

  • Focus on the Child's Problems: Every session is tailored to help the child work through specific issues, whether behavioral disorders or simply difficulties interacting with typically developing peers.

These components address immediate issues and lay the groundwork for healthier, long-term interpersonal skills.

Differences Between ABA and Play Therapy

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While both ABA and play therapy aim to foster growth and learning, they use different approaches. ABA therapy is highly structured and focuses on behavior analysis and modification techniques to manage certain behaviors and learn new skills. In contrast, play therapy offers a more open-ended and explorative approach, focusing on creating a natural environment where children can express their feelings and problems. Both therapies are valuable, and the choice between them, or a combination of both, often depends on the child’s specific needs and the goals of therapy.

Integrating ABA and Play Therapy

At Accel Therapies, we believe in a holistic approach that adapts to each child's individual needs, which is why we often integrate ABA therapy and play therapy. This integration allows us to effectively address a range of developmental and psychological challenges, including autism spectrum disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Combining the structured techniques of ABA with the expressive nature of play therapy, we create a comprehensive therapeutic environment that helps each child achieve optimal growth.


Benefits of Integrated Therapy:

  • Comprehensive Skill Development: Children benefit from the structured learning of ABA while engaging in the natural, creative play that fosters emotional and social development.

  • Flexibility in Therapy: Integrating both therapies allows us to tailor our approach more precisely to the needs of each child, especially those with complex backgrounds involving traumatic events or behavioral disorders.

  • Enhanced Coping Strategies: By combining the coping mechanisms taught in play therapy with the behavior modification techniques of ABA, children learn to navigate their internal world and external interactions more effectively.


The Importance of Personalized Therapy Plans

We at Accel Therapies are committed to crafting personalized therapy plans as unique as the children we serve. Understanding that each child's journey is different, our team of experts, including board-certified behavior analysts, works closely with family members to develop a plan that addresses the child’s current behaviors and supports their long-term development and well-being.


Tailoring to Individual Needs:

  • Assessment and Adjustment: Continuous assessment allows us to adjust therapies as children grow and their needs evolve.

  • Family Involvement: We involve family members in therapy, providing them with tools and strategies to support the child’s development in everyday life.


Choosing the Right Therapy for Your Child

Deciding between ABA therapy, play therapy, or a combination can be daunting for parents. At Accel Therapies, we guide families through this decision-making process with information, support, and professional advice.


Considerations for Therapy Selection:

  • Child’s Needs and Preferences: Some children might respond better to the structured approach of ABA, while others might benefit from the creative freedom of play therapy.

  • Goals of Therapy: Depending on what the family and therapy team identify as the primary goals, one therapy may be recommended, or a combination might be most effective.


Empowering Every Child is a Journey

Whether through ABA therapy, play therapy, or a combination of both, our goal at Accel Therapies is to ensure that each child achieves their fullest potential. By focusing on personalized, evidence-based therapy plans, we strive to empower children with the skills they need for a brighter, more fulfilling future.

Check Out Some of Our Programs 
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Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy

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Early Intervention


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Caregiver & Family


We Provide

In-home and community-based services offered: 

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

  • Caregiver & Family Training

  • Center-based services coming soon!

In-home and community-based services

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