What is Play Therapy?
You might not associate the words “play” and “therapy”, but when combined to make “play therapy”, they refer to a form of family counselling that is primarily directed toward children and youth.
Play therapy involves putting the children and youth that require counselling in a safe, welcoming playroom and allowing them to play and explore with few rules or expectations. The therapist is then able to observe the child and make recommendations based on observations.
Play therapy is used to help children with social or emotional deficits, that may have been caused by traumatic events, abuse, illness, or other factors.
Play therapy focuses on helping children and youth to improve their communication skills, improve problem solving, and foster positive attitude and behaviours. The initial observations and interviews allow the therapist to gather data and make an initial assessment that can be used to guide therapy and direct treatment plans. From here, the therapist is able to direct the child to specific toys and activities that focus on addressing the problem areas, and developing the skills that are in need.
Children are better able to express themselves through play activities as opposed to verbal communication. As such, children are given an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings, and more receptive to input from the therapist then a more traditional setting.
If you are considering play therapy, you will want to ensure you choose a therapist who is well-trained and knowledgeable. Finding a therapist who understand child development, and has training or relevant background is of key importance to success. You also want to make sure that both you, and your child, are comfortable.