So…you’re going to play with my child for 55 minutes?
Have you ever noticed a child having an emotional meltdown? He or she may seem inconsolable, and unable to tell their caregiver or parent what’s wrong—but later, you may observe them “playing it out” with their toys. If you asked this child what they’re playing about, they likely wouldn’t be able to answer you—at least in words.
“Put plainly, play is a child’s language, and toys are their words. Play is how a child interacts with a world they sometimes struggle to understand…”
Why is this? Put plainly, play is a child’s language, and toys are their words. Play is how a child interacts with a world they sometimes struggle to understand for any number of reasons, age certainly among them.
What is play therapy?
Play therapy is a structured theoretical approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children. It allows the therapist to enter the child’s world.
Play therapy differs from regular play in that a child learns to address and resolve their own problems in a controlled setting, and with the initial guidance of a therapist. They learn to communicate and relate to others, express feelings, modify behavior, and develop effective problem-solving skills. They’re able to process their thoughts and feelings in a safe age-appropriate way.
“… the therapist seeks to develop a positive relationship with the child which can facilitate the kind of corrective emotional experience necessary for healing.”
Meanwhile, the therapist seeks to develop a positive relationship with the child which can facilitate the kind of corrective emotional experience necessary for healing.
Play therapy helps children…
- Become more self-reliant and develop increased self-confidence.
- Become more accepting of self and others.
- Become more responsible for behaviors.
- Develop creative ways to solve problems.
- 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.
- Learns limits to negative behavior to help develop good coping skills.
Play therapy can treat a wide variety of issues
Research reinforces the effectiveness of play therapy for children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems. It can also address life stressors including divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, physical & sexual abuse, and domestic violence, as well as anxiety associated with natural disasters.
Play therapy can also be used to treat a wide variety of specific issues, including obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity, and autism spectrum issues. It may also be employed to treat oppositional, defiant, and conduct disorders, as well as anger management, crisis & trauma, grief & loss, divorce & family dissolution, and learning disabilities.