Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children. I use play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings. In play therapy, toys are like the child's words and play is the child's language. Through play, I help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits.  Play therapy may also be used to promote cognitive development and provide insight about and resolution of inner conflicts or dysfunctional thinking in the child.

 

Play therapy differs from regular play in that my job is to help the child  address and resolve his/her own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.

Children are referred for play therapy to resolve their problems. Often, children have used up their own problem solving tools, and they misbehave, may act out at home, with friends, and at school.  Play therapy is utilized to help children cope with difficult emotions and find solutions to problem. By confronting problems in the clinical Play Therapy setting, children find healthier solutions. Play therapy allows children to change the way they think about, feel toward, and resolve their concerns. Even the most troubling problems can be confronted in play therapy and lasting resolutions can be discovered, rehearsed, mastered and adapted into lifelong strategies.

 

Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters.

 

Play therapy helps children:

  • Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.

  • Develop new and creative solutions to problems.

  • Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.

  • Learn to experience and express emotion.

  • Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.

  • Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.

  • Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.

 

Play Therapy