Play Therapy is essentially exactly what is sounds like, playing. Play therapy is a modality typically used with children. Play to a child is like counseling to an adult. Children don’t always have the ability to express their thoughts and feelings through their words therefore play therapy is often used to help them. Play is a medium for expressing feelings, exploring relationships, describing experiences, disclosing wishes, and self-fulfillment. Children’s language development is delayed compared to their cognitive development. Toys are viewed as words and play is viewed as the language. The use of toys enables children to transfer anxieties, fears, fantasies, and guilt to objects rather than people. In the process, children are safe from their own feelings and reactions because play enables children to distance themselves from traumatic events and experiences. Therefore, children are not overwhelmed by their own actions because the act takes place in fantasy.
Play therapy has been demonstrated to be an effective therapeutic approach for a variety of children’s problems including, but not limited to, the following areas:
· abuse and neglect
· aggression and acting out
· attachment difficulties autism
· burn victims
· chronic illness
· deaf and physically
· challenged children
· dissociation and schizophrenia
· emotionally disturbed children
· enuresis and encopresis problems
Play therapy is conducted by way of appointment and few rules may be implemented on the child’s play. It is the choice of play objects and how they are used that often provide clues to a child’s developmental level, their family and social relationships, the difficulties they are experiencing in life, and their inner world. A child may be given access to trucks and phones and other toys, to drawing and painting materials, to dolls and action figures, to puppets, to stuffed animals, to masks and costumes, to sand play, and more. A child may be asked to tell a story about their family through the use of puppets. Or a child may be given a magic wand and asked to make a few wishes.
A play therapist is a licensed mental health professional who has additional training and experience in play therapy. The Association for Play Therapy provides training and accreditation for Registered Play Therapists. As with all forms of therapy, it is important to find a play therapist with whom you feel comfortable. Look for someone with whom you can establish clarity of communication and a sense of good fit.
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Landreth, G., & Bratton, S. (1999). Play therapy. ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services.
Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Play therapy. Psychology Today. Retrieved December 20, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/play-therapy