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Fraser Center opens area for children
Keegan Murphy, 9, and Julia Murphy, 5, draw at an art table in the Fraser Center’s new child therapy room Monday. Coldwell Banker Holtzman, Realtors donated materials to create the kid-friendly room, which will be used for counseling sessions. - photo by Photo by Seraine Page
For those who have suffered through a traumatic event such as a car accident or a divorce, working through the associated emotional turmoil can be a lifelong personal challenge. And it may take more than time to heal a child’s emotional wounds.
Therapy frequently is necessary to halt temper tantrums or recurring nightmares and bring a sense of closure to stressed or grieving children.  
On Monday evening, Fraser Center employees thanked Coldwell Banker Holtzman, Realtors for donating materials to create a comfortable play area for youngsters who may be nervous about sharing their problems with a therapist.
The Fraser Center, a nonprofit, non-denominational, faith-based counseling center, offers various services to community members, especially counseling sessions for military members and their children.
The new playroom has a bean bag chair, stuffed animals, a puppet theater and a drawing table, where children will be able to express their grief, pain, excitement or fears, said Amy Perkins-Murphy, a licensed clinical social worker at the center.
“Having an inviting space for children is important,” said Perkins-Murphy, who has been a social worker for 13 years. “They use play as their way of communication.”
Perkins-Murphy devotes her days to learning about children’s problems — parents’ divorces, nightmares, military deployments — and helps them demonstrate their feelings through the use of toys, she said.
“Working with children who have been through really difficult life situations that are hard for them to process are ones who often do very well in therapy,” Perkins-Murphy said.
 “When a child comes to the play therapy room they are usually drawn to one of the therapeutic toys right away,” she said of the 25 children she sees weekly. “I really take their lead.”
David Morris, the center’s development coordinator, pointed out the progress of the center and the small amount of money that was needed to fulfill therapists’ desire to have a children’s play area.
Perkins-Murphy said she can tell the therapy is effective when children structure their play activities around the issues that may be bothering them, such as the loss of a family member. She said she carefully monitors the progress during each session.
“When the symptoms that brought a child to therapy decrease (such as less temper tantrums or sleeping better at night), then it is a sign that the therapy is working,” she said.
Perkins-Murphy is certain that the space will comfort children struggling with emotional issues.
“It’s nice to know it’s just a place for kids.”
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