Therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods,
all of which make use of one or more of the natural
benefits of play. All Play Therapy differs from
regular play in that the therapist helps children
systematically address and resolve their own
problems. Since play is fun, it makes it easier
for children to confront what is bothering them.
Play allows them a safe psychological distance from
their problems through play, the therapist will be
better able to help them find solutions to their
problems and allows them to express their true thoughts
and feelings in ways best suited to their development
recent years a growing number of noted psychologists and
psychiatrists have observed that play is as important to
human happiness and well-being as love and work.
Some of the greatest thinkers of all time, including
Aristotle and Plato, have reflected on why play is so
fundamental in our lives. The following are some
of the many benefits of play that have been described by
play theorists. Play is a fun, enjoyable activity
that elevates our spirits and brightens our outlook on
life. It expands self-expression, self-knowledge,
and self-actualizations. Play relieves feelings of
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 -- in
a safe environment -- skills and roles needed for
survival. Learning and development are best
fostered through play.
use the curative powers inherent in play in many
ways. They may employ the language of play to help
children express what is troubling them when they cannot
say their thoughts and feelings in words. Through
play, therapists may teach children more adaptive
behaviors when there are emotional or social skills
deficits. The positive relationship that develops
between therapists and child during play sessions may
provide a corrective emotional experience or serve to
release the natural healing resources that lie within
the child. Play may also be used to promote
cognitive development and provide insight about inner
conflicts or dysfunctional thinking in the child.
are brought into Play Therapy to safely address and
resolve their problems. Often, by the time
children arrive for therapy, they have used up all of
their own options for solving their problems and simply
do not know what else to do. By this time,
children may be acting out at home, with friends, and at
school. Play Therapy allows trained play
therapists to assess and understand children's play and
to use it in assisting the child in coping with
difficult emotions and in finding solutions to their
problems. By safely confronting their problems in
the protected Play Therapy environment, children find
creative solutions. Play Therapy allows children
to change the way they think about, feel toward, and
resolve their problems. Even the most troubling
problems can be confronted in Play Therapy and lasting
resolutions can be discovered, rehearsed, and adapted
into the child's life.
play is a natural process for children, play and Play
Therapy can be helpful to people of all ages with a
variety of presenting concerns.
Therapy is therapy that involves some form of play
(the natural language of children and “the child
within”) or other expressive modality, as opposed to
therapies that focus more exclusively on verbal
therapy is no longer a single form of therapy, with a
single universal language, set of beliefs,
assumptions, theories and methods.
term “Play Therapy” may have nearly as many
subsets as the term “psychotherapy”
Therapy often, but not always, involves the use of
some type of play material(s)
therapy involves a variety of forms and communication
in the child’s natural language of play and metaphor
for Relating to Children (by Virginia
are not miniature adults and the therapist does not
respond to them as if they were.
are people. They
are capable of experiencing deep emotional pain and
are unique and worthy of respect.
The therapist prizes the uniqueness of each
child and respects the person they are.
are resilient. Children
possess tremendous capacity to overcome obstacles and
circumstances in their lives.
have an inherent tendency toward growth and maturity.
They possess an inner intuitive wisdom.
are capable of positive self-direction.
They are capable of dealing with their world in
natural language is play and this is the medium of
self-expression with which they are most comfortable.
have the right to remain silent.
The therapist respects a child’s decision not
will take the therapeutic experience to where they
need to be. The
therapist does not attempt to determine when or how a
child should play.
growth cannot be speeded up.
The therapist recognizes this and is patient with
the child’s developmental process.
goals of Play Therapy
will learn to:
supported, accepted, validated, empowered and safe
feelings, thoughts, and inner conflicts
their understanding of their
own feelings, their
and how they operate in different situations.
which aspects of how they operate are working and not
working, they will learn about other
people and the world around them,
relationships and environments, and how
to integrate and use pain.
will explore and develop:
positive communication skills
positive ways to vent feelings
skills for dealing with conflicts
approaches to life and relationships
to create safer relationships and environments
will be empowered to:
trust/intimacy in a safe relationship
their view of self and others
open to the possibility of joy
themes in Children’s Play:
Various issues in the child’s life will be repeated
four/five times in each session.
These issues are shown in different styles of play,
but the theme is the thread that ties all the different
styles together, as the pieces of a quilt unite to form
the pattern of the whole.