What is Play Therapy?
Play Therapy is counseling for a child using play for optimal expression of thoughts, feelings, and experiences based on development. Play therapy is to children what talk therapy is to adults. Play is a child’s natural way of expression, and it is easier for children to pair toys with verbalization, to facilitate their overall expression of thoughts and feelings. Sometimes children do not even know how to describe or understand what they are thinking or feeling inside, so they act out or show how they feel through play. Neurobiological research indicates and supports the importance of using play for overall health and integration of children for improved coping strategies and brain regulation.
How can Play Therapy help my child?
Play Therapy can provide an outlet to help children cope with and/or overcome problems, including but not limited to the following:
- Learning Difficulties
- Worry and Anxiety
- Hyperactivity and Impulsivity
- Autism Spectrum Disorder and other Developmental Disorders
- Psychosomatic Complaints (e.g., tummy and headaches)
- Social Skills
- Coping with a parent’s divorce
Play Therapy can also help nurture and develop a child’s brain by creating and enhancing neurosynaptic pathways which helps to facilitate the following:
- General Character Development
- Self-Concept and Esteem Building
- Development of Self-control
- Development of Self-Responsibility
- Mastery and Cognitive Development
- Development of Empathy and Social Skills
- Development of Constructive Self-expression
- Social Skills
What are the reasons a child may need Play Therapy?
A child may be angry, sad, confused, or displaying behaviors at home and/or school that parents and/or teachers do not understand. A child may be struggling with inappropriate self-expression, self-esteem, and self-control. A child may also have challenges with general self-regulation.
What does a child learn in Play Therapy?
By creating a safe expressive space paired with a nurturing therapeutic relationship, a child is able to work on the following:
- Controlling their behavior
- Expressing needs and ideas in a more constructive way
- Making healthy decisions/ choices
- Accepting appropriate responsibility
- Fostering and developing empathy
- Enhancing Focus and Attention
- Employing Social Skills
What’s the difference between Play Therapy and playing with my child at home?
Play Therapy is not the same as playing. Play Therapy uses your child’s natural tendency to “play out” their feelings, worries and life situations in the presence of a specially trained Play Therapist. The Play Therapist helps the child to feel accepted, understood and gain a sense of control or understanding about difficult feelings or situations.
How long will my child be in Play Therapy?
All children and reasons for entering into Play Therapy are unique. Just like adults in counseling, it is hard to predict how long play therapy will take for children. Your child’s Play Therapist will create a treatment plan and will be assessing for progress. Research indicates that involving families members in the process of child counseling can help decrease the time the child is in treatment.
Some children may come a few times, others a few months, and some for a year or more. Your child’s Play Therapist will be in communication with you regarding your child’s progress in the Playroom and your report of their behavior at home/ school. Parent involvement and willingness to learn new tools and ways of responding to their child at home, enhances the therapeutic process.