What is Play Therapy?
Children frequently have difficulty talking about what is bothering them. This is because they haven’t yet developed the vocabulary or the thinking skills to express their concerns. Play therapy is an approach to counseling that allows a child to use toys, games, and art to express their thoughts or feelings. The counselor can use play to communicate with the child about what is happening in their life and help them explore alternative behaviors and attitudes. Through play, therapists may help a child learn adaptive behaviors when there are social or emotional deficits. Play therapy may also be used to promote cognitive development and provide insight and resolution to internal conflicts.
What to Expect with Play Therapy
A complete history of the child is obtained by the therapist meeting with the parents/caregivers.
Then a clinical assessment of the child is completed when the child meets with the therapist.
Once the assessment is complete, consultation with the parents/caregivers is provided to review the type of treatment and treatment goals.
In all cases, the treatment is play-based and child-centered, focusing on the individual needs of the child.
Play therapy is appropriate for children ages 3-12 years old. Teenagers may also benefit if appropriate. Play Therapy has been utilized as intervention to treat mental health issues such as:
Grief and loss
Crisis and trauma
Attention Deficit Disorder
Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Examples of Therapy Goals
Facilitates a child’s expression of feelings
Promotes appropriate behavior
Promotes self-esteem and a sense of competence
Promotes problem solving skills
Defines healthy boundaries
Increases social development