Firefly Counseling  Services, P.C.

4950 NE Belknap Ct. Suite 205

Hillsboro, OR 97124

503-560-5822 (voice)

888-503-2864 (fax)


The practice is located on the corner of Belknap Ct. and Elam Young Pkwy next to Intel Hawthorne Farms.


+1 503-560-5822


+1 888-503-2864


verified by Psychology Today verified by Psychology Today Directory
verified by Psychology Today

Buisness Hours: We are in the office Monday-Friday with appointment times ranging from 8AM-6PM. If you are having a mental health emergency and need immediete assistance please call the Washington County Crisis Line at 503-291-9111 or the Multnomah County Crisis Line at 503-988-4888 or proceed to your nearest emergency room for assistance.



"We don't accomplish anything in this world alone...and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something."

-Sandra Day O'Connor

Firefly Counseling Services:Care,Education,Integration
Firefly Counseling Services:Care,Education,Integration

Play Therapy Practice

"Enter into children's play and you will find the place where there minds, hearts, and souls meet." - Virginia Axline


Children frequently have difficulty talking about what is bothering them or talking about events that have occurred in their lives. Sometimes they just don't want to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Other times they have not yet developed the vocabulary or cognitive skills they need to be able to do so. Sometimes they just don't want to talk about their thoughts and feelings out of discomfort and it is possible that sometimes they are just teenagers.


Counseling sessions with children and teens are confidential just like those with adults. We keep the specifics of what a child says and what they may do in the sessions private to build trust in the relationship between the child or teen and their therapist. We will talk to parents about therapy, but this will be done in a generalized format including themes of their play and areas of clinical focus. Specifics on what your child said or did will be kept confidential. We will encourage children and teens to include their parents or caregivers when appropriate or invite parents to sit in on the therapy session should that benefit your child. You may choose to schedule an appointment with your therapist at any time to talk about your child by phone or email. Our standard procedure is to meet with parents approximately every 5th-6th session to consult on your child's progress.


Our approach to counseling children and adolescents is to use a prescriptive method of play therapy (using the best fitting evidenced based practice that meets the unique needs of your child through a child's natural language of play). What we mean by that is we don’t believe all children can fit into a one-size-fits-all model or approach to therapy. We have received training and have studied a variety of theoretical approaches or methods to help individuals so that we can tailor our approach to your child’s unique abilities and/or specific needs. Play therapy involves using toys, sand, art, crafts, games, and other materials to help children express themselves. Play offers the child an environment of safety. If children are able to say what they think or how they feel through toys, art and other media with someone who can translate their behavior and facilitate the process, they will respond positively and are able to successfully work through their presenting problems, symptoms or issues. Play therapy may be short-term and at other times, it may be more long-term. Regardless of the time frame, it is important that a child be given the opportunity to complete the play therapy process once they have begun. A child's symptoms may get worse before they get better. When a child begins to identify and address his or her concerns, he or she will need to complete the process in order for it to have lasting effects.


We often utilize play based or prop based approaches within our work as we incorporate other therapies into practice. You can expect the use of art, sandtray miniatures, puppets and other playful mediums to be utilized as we work with children to process difficult emotions and/or experiences from their history.


Teens also respond well to art-based or ‘playful’ techniques in counseling and therapy. The approach is disarming and creates security and comfort during expression of the issues they are struggling with. Many teens we have worked with report that they enjoy the creativity of therapy using art, music and/or play for self-expression, thus gaining a deeper sense of themselves and how to move forward in life.


When preparing your young child for coming to see us in therapy, the best thing is to tell them that they are coming to a place that has toys and a counselor they can talk to when they are ready. If your child wants to know why he or she is coming to see us, you can say something like "It seems like things have been really hard for you at home (or school, etc.) and sometimes it helps to have a special time for yourself with a special person to talk to." –or- “We found a special person for you to talk to about what has happened. She talks to lots of kids who have had things like this happen to them.” For older children, you can let them know that they will be talking with a counselor as well as engaging in art or game activities. With older children, it also helps if you stress that you are willing to get involved in counseling to change things for the family in general.


Remember, since children may play with sand or paint, they should wear comfortable play clothes, rather than "good" clothes. The play process is sometimes messy! We promise if your child comes to our office wearing a shirt that has seen better days we will not be judging your laundry skills. We will be pleased to know that we won’t be sending them away with a stain on their brand new shirt.


A typical counseling session will last 45-60 minutes. If you need to speak to your therapist it is best to make a separate appointment. You are also always welcome to email or call us with concerns or questions. Depending upon your concern or request your therapist may suggest that you schedule a parent consultation appointment to ensure they have time to properly talk about your questions or thoughts.

Thank you! We look forward with working with you and your child!


-Michelle Pliske, MSW LCSW RPT-S

Registered Play Therapy Supervisor
Clinical Director and Founder Firefly Counseling Services, PC



Play Therapy Practice: Theory and Understanding Play as a Therapeutic Model


Expressive Therapies: Understanding Play Therapy as a Therapeutic Model

Michelle M. Pliske, MSW LCSW RPT-S


Every child is different, therefore unique treatment plans are created based upon their symptomatology and life stressors. Our prescriptive and eclectic theoretical focus combines expressive therapies, particularly play therapy, with cognitive behavioral work, narrative work, trauma theory and skills training. Children may be seen individually or with family systems to achieve treatment goals.


It is important to understand therapeutic approaches that use creativity, self-expression and imagination. Children express themselves, their needs, experiences with trauma, and their histories through play; thus children best communicate through play, art and music. Children often find themselves ‘at a loss for words’ either due to not having the language for self-expression or due to a lack of contextual understanding to be able talk about what is going on or what has happened in their lives. This is where play therapy is beneficial:


Play therapy provides the opportunity for expression in the language of artistic play and is witnessed and supported by someone who is trained to understand the expression. Play therapy also acts to soothe the child's physiology; through play based approaches and psychoeducation the therapist can give children a venue to better understand how their bodies react to stress. The play therapist serves as a translator for caregivers. The child is provided with a variety of play and art therapy materials to “talk” about what have been going on physically and/or emotionally. The therapist’s role is to translate the child’s expression and then to communicate with caregivers, schools and/or the community the essence of what the child is conveying without compromising the child's right to confidentiality and privacy.


Play therapy is often divided into two basic types: nondirective and directive. Nondirective play therapy is a non-intrusive, client centered method in which children are encouraged to work toward their own solutions to problems through play. It is typically classified as a psychodynamic therapy. In contrast, directive play therapy is a method that includes more structure and guidance by the therapist as children work through emotional and behavioral difficulties through play. It often contains a behavioral component and the process includes more prompting by the therapist. Directive play therapy is more likely to be classified as a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Both nondirective play therapy and directive play therapy have their place in the therapeutic process. The trained therapist works with the child to determine which approach would best suit the child's needs during the session and/or process.


Many of the Firefly play therapists have additional training and certification in Synergetic Play Therapy. This highly specialized form of play therapy utilizes interpersonal neurobiology with play therapy practice and therapist authenticity for creating integration within the mind and body, addressing complex issues and perceived challenges or negative experiences. 

Older 'tweens' and adolescents can greatly benefit from expressive therapies for communication as it is an alternative or creative means for self-expression from traditional ‘talk therapy’. Art, dance, music and sandtray therapy are all utilized successfully in the treatment of adolescents. These expressive forms of communication often open the gateway for digging deeper into issues and helping tweens and teens gain insight into their worldview and perspective. 


Firefly Counseling Services, P.C. provides an eclectic or prescriptive approach to expressive therapies. This means a variety of techniques can be utilized depending upon the child or adolescent’s individualized treatment plan. The overall goal of therapy is to continually hold a light of hope for children and adolescents as they navigate through their history, thus creating a bright future.


-Michelle M. Pliske, MSW LCSW RPT-S

Registered Play Therapy Supervisor


 "The practice of play therapy requires extensive specialized education, training, and experience. A play therapist is a licensed (or certified) mental health professional who has earned a Master's or Doctorate degree in a mental health field with considerable general clinical experience and supervision."

-The Association for Play Therapy


We offer comprehensive training for professionals wanting to learn more about play therapy and/or work towards their certificate in play therapy studies. Visit our institute website at www.fireflyknowledge.org or follow the link below to discover courses offered throughout the year. Registration is easy, and you can apply online for space within our courses. Most courses are located within the clinic and offer experiential practice to solidify theory and knowledge. Come prepared to play!


Association for Play Therapy: Play Therapy Works!

Play and the Brain

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