Play Therapy

thXSLO4HX7What is Play Therapy?

“Play Therapy is based upon the fact that play is the child’s natural medium of self-expression. It is an opportunity which is given to the child to ‘play out’ his feelings and problems just as, in certain types of adult therapy, an individual ‘talks out’ his difficulties.”
Virginia Axline

Play Therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all of which make use of the natural benefits of play. Play Therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children systematically address and resolve their problems. Play Therapy is based upon the fact that play is the child’s natural medium of self-expression. It is an opportunity which is given to the child to ‘play out’ his feelings and problems just as, in certain types of adult therapy, an individual ‘talks out’ his difficulties.

Play is to the child what verbalization is to the adult. It is a medium for expressing feelings, exploring relationships, describing experiences, disclosing wishes, and self-fulfillment. Because children’s language development lags behind their cognitive development, they communicate their awareness of what is happening in their world through their play. In play therapy toys are viewed as the child’s words and play as the child’s language. Play therapy, then, is to children what counseling or psychotherapy is to adults. In play therapy the symbolic function of play is what is so important, providing children with a means of expressing their inner world. Emotionally significant experiences can be expressed more comfortably and safely through the symbolic representation the toys provide.

Play therapy is based on developmental principles and, thus, provides, through play, developmentally appropriate means of expression and communication for children. The use of toys enables children to transfer anxieties, fears, fantasies, and guilt to objects rather than people. In the process, children are safe from their own feelings and reactions because play enables children to distance themselves from traumatic events and experiences.

I use a variety of different Play Therapy approaches and techniques in my work with children. I select and adapt interventions appropriate to the child’s age, interest, and treatment needs. For example, I may use therapeutic games, art activities, puppets, storytelling, role-playing, and/or sandplay, to engage and assess children, and to help them address their treatment issues.

Excerpt by Garry Landreth & Sue Bratton

Play is to the child what verbalization is to the adult. It is a medium for expressing feelings, exploring relationships, describing experiences, disclosing wishes, and self-fulfillment. Because children’s language development lags behind their cognitive development, they communicate their awareness of what is happening in their world through their play. In play therapy toys are viewed as the child’s words and play as the child’s language.

Play therapy, then, is to children what counseling or psychotherapy is to adults. In play therapy the symbolic function of play is what is so important, providing children with a means of expressing their inner world. Emotionally significant experiences can be expressed more comfortably and safely through the symbolic representation the toys provide.

Play therapy is based on developmental principles and, thus, provides, through play, developmentally appropriate means of expression and communication for children.

The use of toys enables children to transfer anxieties, fears, fantasies, and guilt to objects rather than people. In the process, children are safe from their own feelings and reactions because play enables children to distance themselves from traumatic events and experiences.

Play Therapy Links

Video on Play Therapy: http://www.psychotherapy.net/video/adlerian-play-therapy
Alberta Play Therapy Association (APTA): http://www.albertaplaytherapy.ca
Canadian Association for Child and Play Therapy (CACPT): http://www.cacpt.com
Association for Play Therapy (APT): http://www.a4pt.org/
Play Therapy International (PTI): http://www.playtherapy.org/