Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning. They have to play with what they know to be true in order to find out more, and then they can use what they learn in new forms of play.
The Association of Play Therapy defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”
Play therapy is a process that allows the child to use play to work through their thoughts and feelings and learn to cope with them without having to have the words for it. Children often times lack the ability to have the words for their thoughts and feelings. Play therapy is typically applied with children between the ages of 3-13 years old.
1. Why play?
Play is a child’s work. It is the same as words are for adults. It is the way children practice their feelings and life experiences. Through play children are able to work through events, learn to identify their feelings, and cope with them.
2. How is this different than me playing with my child at home?
A trained play therapist provides a room that allows the child to feel accepted. As the child plays the therapist guides them or teaches them how to cope with their thoughts and feelings through play. The play therapist is not just playing with a child or getting them comfortable and having them talk. They are interpreting the child’s themes or stories and teaching them the skills needed to reach their goals for therapy.
3. How does it benefit my child?
Play therapy helps children in many ways some include: build self esteem, identify feelings, cope or adjust with life events, build healthy relationships, learn social skills, and many more.
4. How long does it take?
The number of sessions depends on the child. Your therapist will meet with you each session and discuss with you as your child progresses.
5. Who can provide play therapy for my child?
A play therapist has training specifically in play therapy. There are a variety of techniques that can be applied so each play therapist may have a different style. All play therapists should have education in a theory of play therapy, child development and childhood mental health issues.