Play Therapy

Children like to play! Children are often unable to understand and talk about feelings the way teens and adults do. In play therapy children are provided with a variety of ways to express themselves including art play, dramatic play, fantasy play and sand play.

Play therapy requires the therapist to enter a child's emotional world, rather than expecting the child to understand and adapt to the therapist's world. Play being utilized as the child's modality of communication; toys offer a way for the child to express their inner experiences and how they perceive the world around them.

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What is play therapy?

Play therapy is an effective way to work through behavioral or emotional concerns with children (and even sometimes adults and adolescents). Play therapy is a special process focused on children’s need to express themselves through play and toys. In play therapy, trained therapists are able to strategically use play as a vehicle for helping children express their thoughts, feelings and struggles in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. Through play therapy children are able to recreate emotional experiences they are struggling with internally. As the process progresses, the child’s play evolves until they gain understanding of the situation.

Play therapy has the following benefits:
  • It provides a safe and nonthreatening space for children to express their emotions.
  • The therapy can be modified so it is developmentally appropriate for each child.
  • Children can learn how to constructively express their thoughts and feelings.
  • It fosters decision-making and acceptance of personal responsibility.
  • Children can develop problem-solving, coping and social skills.
  • It supports emotional healing and growth.
  • Children are able to learn from mistakes in a safe, non-judgmental environment.
  • It encourages self-efficacy, positive self-esteem and creativity.

Children can often express their inner struggles, thoughts or feelings in a maladaptive way due to their inability or challenges in articulating them verbally. Their distress can be seen in their behaviors. Through play therapy the therapist can assist the child in beginning to create a vocabulary of feelings to assist the child in expressing themselves more effectively.

We Can Help

Counseling involves a collaborative process where you work with a trained professional who will support you in resolving personal conflicts and emotional difficulties. Common concerns focused on in Play Therapy include:

For more information on play therapy & resources, visit The Association for Play Therapy - www.a4pt.org.

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