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What is Play Therapy and How Does It Benefit Children?

What is Play Therapy and How Does It Benefit Children?

What is Play Therapy?

Play Therapy is not just playtime. Rather it is  therapeutic counseling for children. Why play? Because the act of “playing” is a child’s natural form of expression – not speaking. 

The Association for Play Therapy (APT) defines Play Therapy as: “The systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."

What this definition means is that children can more easily express what they are feeling through play than with words. In a therapeutic child-centered play session, a trained therapist will provide selected play materials and facilitate the development of a safe relationship and environment in which the child is free to express and explore feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in a way that is suitable for the child. 

In a Play Therapy session, play can be fun or serious, and it is ultimately up to the child. The Play Therapist is there to play, interact, and/or safely discuss thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that naturally emerge through the child’s play. 

Play Therapy is especially beneficial for children ages three to eleven and is an effective treatment option for many developmental issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, grief, divorce, anger management, school troubles, and respectful self-control. 

Who provides Play Therapy?

Many different licensed mental health professions such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other therapist (LPC, LMFT, LCSW) can provide play-based approaches in their therapy with children and teens, but a Registered Play Therapist is someone who has received advanced, graduate-level training and supervision and has also earned a certification from the Association of Play Therapy (APT).

 Benefits of Play Therapy

Since Play Therapy was first implemented in the early 1900s, therapists have observed the many benefits of Play Therapy, but the most positive impact of Play Therapy is that it helps children learn how to express even difficult feelings and emotions in a healthy way. Play Therapy allows children to gain insight about how to resolve inner conflict and understand their own emotions, and children also learn how to modify problem behaviors and develop their communications skills. 

Benefits of Play Therapy

  • Play Therapy helps children learn helpful social behaviors. 
  • Play Therapy supports internal processing of difficult emotions.
  • Play Therapy teaches conflict resolution strategies. 
  • Play Therapy encourages self-control and anger management.
  • Play Therapy develops self-respect.
  • Play Therapy cultivates healthy boundaries.
  • Play Therapy fosters problem solving abilities. 
  • Play Therapy improves communication skills. 

The healing power of Play Therapy 

If your child has recently gone through or experienced a major life change, especially a traumatic one, then Play Therapy can help your child emotionally adjust so that their mental health is supported through the transition. Additionally, if your child struggles with social interaction or behavioral issues, incorporating Play Therapy can be extremely helpful and healing to the child’s overall development and psychological wellbeing. 

Find a Play Therapist 

Visit www.KidsTherapyFinder.com and search our directory to find a Play Therapist for your child today. 

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