Welcome to Central Iowa Psychological Services

Offering comprehensive substance abuse services, psychological assessments and counseling for children (as young as age 2), adolescents, adults, elder adults, couples, and families.

We know that "the great need of the human heart is to feel listened to and understood, by self and others." Our counseling services address these needs...fostering spiritual, physical, and mental wellness.

Central Iowa Psychological Services (CIPS) has gathered a unique group of psychologists, mental health counselors, marital and family therapist's, and social workers with a broad background of education and experience to assist clients in working with behavioral, spiritual, and psychological issues.

Our staff and counselors at CIPS are friendly and sincere...welcoming clients to an environment that is accepting, safe, and gentle. Clients of all ages, from all arenas of life, will find a variety of creative services to help develop compassionate solutions for everyday, real-life problems.
Comprehensive substance abuse services are now available.

Please click on the links above to take a closer look at the services we offer in our Ames and West Des Moines offices. You can also find information about each of our counselors by clicking on the therapist's button and you can look for answers to many common questions under the FAQ link.

February 1-7 is National Play Therapy Week!

National Play Therapy week recognizes the importance of play therapy, credentialed play therapist, and the association for play therapy.


Play Therapy is based upon the fact that play is the child’s natural medium of self expression ... It is an opportunity which is given to the child to ‘play out’ his feelings and problems just as in certain types of adult therapy an individual ‘talks out’ his difficulties.”  Virginia Axline.

Play Therapy is a powerful tool for addressing cognitive, behavioral, and emotional challenges. Licensed professionals use play therapeutically to help client’s better process their experiences and develop more effective strategies for managing their worlds. 

Children who have experienced trauma, loss, and other life challenges need emotional healing. They are often seen as resilient and will “forget” as they move through life. This is NOT the case. Children show their feelings through their behaviors and need help releasing the difficult feelings they have buried in order to feel good about themselves and their world.

The toys are the Play Therapist’s tools. The child communicates to the therapist through their play. Play Therapists are trained to allow the child to express what they feel using a non-directive approach. Non-directive play therapy means “tracking, reflecting, and describing” what the child is doing while they play. This allows them the freedom to express their thoughts and feelings without questions that often lead them to say what they may or may not be thinking or feeling. Directive play therapy is also used for older children who may have the ability to talk about and process what they feel. Directive play therapy is using games, expressive art, bibliotherapy, and role-play that is planned by the therapist to help the child cope with what they have experienced.


Deciding whether or not to take your child to a play therapist is a personal choice.  Children are seen in therapy for an array of reasons, such as behavioral issues (caused by bullying, grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, physical and sexual abuse, and crisis and trauma) and mental health disorders (i.e: anxiety, depression, attention deficit/hyperactivity or ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, academic and social impairment, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders). 

Research suggests Play Therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.

To learn more about play therapy and find a registered play therapist in your area visit the website: www.a4pt.org.

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