Play Therapy – Is It Right for My Family?

This is the first installment of a two-part series about Play Therapy. Check back next week for the second installment of this blog series. 

“My child won’t listen!  Everything is a battle, and he throws a massive tantrum every time he doesn’t get his way!”

“My child’s grandparent died a few months ago.  I expected her to be sad, but she seems angry.”

“My child is so anxious about everything!  School drop-offs are impossible, and he clings to my leg when I try to leave the house.  Help!”

“My child was diagnosed with autism and ADHD, and the psychologist suggested therapy.”

These are some of the issues that parents cite when calling me to seek help.  But what does play therapy look like?  And is it right for your child and family?

What Is Play Therapy?

Play Therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which play is used as a means of helping children express or communicate their feelings.  It is conducted by a trained, licensed mental health professional.  Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings. In play therapy, toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language. Through play, therapists may help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits. The positive relationship that develops between therapist and child during play therapy sessions can provide a corrective emotional experience necessary for healing. Play therapy may also be used to promote cognitive development and provide insight about and resolution of inner conflicts or dysfunctional thinking in the child.

Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows the expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.

Why Play in Therapy?

Play is vital to human happiness and well-being.  Play is a fun, enjoyable activity that elevates our spirits and brightens our outlook on life. It expands self-expression, self-knowledge, self-actualization, and self-efficacy. Play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, connects us to people in a positive way, stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulates our emotions, and boosts our ego. In addition, play allows us to practice skills and roles needed for survival. Learning and development are best fostered through play.

Next week we will continue to discuss how play therapy works, the benefits of play therapy, and a parent’s role in play therapy.

Ready to learn more?  Contact us today at (347) 457-5900.