What is Play Therapy?

Play therapy is utilized to assist children in expressing their thoughts and feelings. Many children do not have the vocabulary to be able to tell the adults in their lives about their needs and concerns. Using play in therapy allows children to use their natural language to communicate those needs and concerns. If play is a child's language, then the toys are their words. As a registered play therapist, I have specialized training in working with children in a therapeutic setting. Through the developed therapeutic relationship built through sessions together, many children can have a corrective experience that can assist in the healing process. I can guess what you may be thinking by now, how can this person help my child just by engaging in play? Well play therapy is different from regular play in the way that the therapist helps children to address and solve problems. In the therapeutic relationship, children learn important communication skills, ways to express feelings, modifications that can be made to behavior, problem-solving skills, and general ways to relate to people in their lives. Play therapy is helpful for many mental health concerns including anger management, grief and loss, divorce/family dissolution, trauma, anxiety, depression, physical/sexual abuse, domestic violence, academic and social development among many other life stressors. 

Benefits of play therapy include:

  • Developing modified behaviors to be more successful in the community
  • Creating new solutions to problems
  • Developing respect and acceptance of self and others
  • Learning about feelings and ways to express emotion
  • Increasing social skills for family and school interactions
  • The list could go on infinitely!
Traditional play therapy was developed for and most used with children age 3 through 12. However, as a play therapist, I incorporate play in therapy with adolescents and adults as well through expressive arts therapy interventions. My typical treatment includes weekly sessions lasting 45-50 minutes. According to the Association of Play Therapy, "it takes an average of 20 play therapy sessions to resolve the problems of the typical child referred for treatment." That being said, each child is unique with some needing fewer sessions and some needing more. During each step of treatment, I will be speaking with the parent/caregiver to learn about client progress in different settings and make plans accordingly to continue treatment or to begin transitioning out of treatment.

For more information about play therapy please visit the Association of Play Therapy website at www.a4pt.org

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