Play Therapy FAQs
What is play therapy?
Play therapy is a form of therapy where children have an opportunity to express their emotions, improve their communication, and solve problems. Play therapy is founded on empirical data that emphasizes children’s natural ability to express their feelings and resolve conflicts through play. Play therapists use a variety of techniques including storytelling, puppet play, drama, music, dance, sand play, painting and drawing, and board games to encourage a child’s creative expression.
Within play therapy, there are 4 recognized “therapeutic powers” of play. Play therapy aims to foster emotional wellness, enhance social relationships, increase personal strengths, and facilitate communication. Play therapy fosters emotional wellness through catharsis and the playing out of big or little issues. It encourages stress management, positive emotions, and a release of previously repressed feelings. In addition, play therapy facilitates communication by allowing children to express themselves in a compassionate and safe environment, where therapists can provide direct and indirect teachings and children can develop insight into their behaviors. Play therapy increases personal strengths by providing opportunities for problem solving and self regulation. It enhances social relationships through the safety and rapport that children develop with trained therapists and it facilitates healthy attachment patterns and empathy.
Who can benefit from play therapy?
Play therapy in the playroom is most appropriate for children ages 3-11 years of age, or with families with children that age. However, play therapy techniques and other expressive arts interventions have been known to benefit individuals of all ages. Families can benefit from play therapy to increase positive relationship patterns and esteem within the family system.
What happens during play therapy?
During a play therapy session, much will depend on the therapeutic approach and the child’s individual needs. At times, children will explore the playroom freely, engaging in spontaneous play while the therapist reflects their choices and behavior. At other times, children may be directed to engage in specific expressive activities such as drawing family scenes, using puppets to act out life events, creating a scene in a sand tray, telling stories, or playing therapeutic board games. Children may also talk about their feelings, relationships, and difficulties in their lives and be able to process those emotions with a trained therapist.
How can play therapy help my child? Aren’t they just playing?
Through the child’s play, as well as the special therapeutic relationship, the therapist helps children to accept and express their emotions in appropriate ways, develop trust and confidence, and improve their behavior. A trained therapist observes a child’s play to gain insight into their world and help them develop ways to cope with their problems and redirect inappropriate
How to Talk to Your Child About Going to Counseling: A question that is frequently asked by parents is: how should I talk to my child about coming to therapy?
We always recommend that you talk openly to your child about what to expect before we meet. You can tell your child that they are going to meet with someone that day who will be able to help them with some of the big feelings that they are having. Since the therapist will have already met with you prior to the first session, we recommend telling your child “I met with the therapist you will be seeing today and she is really excited to get to know you”. We make therapy fun so, for more resistant children, you can show them pictures of our space to help them see that our work looks and feels like play!