Play Therapy

Children often lack the skill and developmental capacity to talk or understand their feelings like adults. They use play in the same way adults use words. Play therapy is a therapeutic approach for children. Children love to play! While they play they are actually learning about their world, the people in their world and themselves. Many therapist say "play is the language of children" and the "toys are their words." During play therapy, children have access to a large variety of toys and can express themselves as they desire through dramatic and imaginary play, also using sand play and art. 

Children repeatedly play out problems in detail over and over again until they resolution their problems. A play therapist assists the child through their play and helps them in the process by encouraging them to play and by providing a safe and understanding environment. Play advances children's thinking, motor skills, emotional development and provides the forum for children to work through areas such as abuse, divorce, trauma, peer pressure, adoption, bullying, grief/loss, etc. 

GettyImages-475663896 Play therapy is very beneficial for children ages 3-12. However, many children as young as 2 years of age and up to 13 can benefit from play therapy. Some adolescents can benefit, depending on their developmental age. For example, children who have been adopted, especially those who have been institutionalized can greatly benefit. Often children who have been referred for play therapy may be struggling with the following issues:

  • Needing to be the center of attention
  • Self-esteem or identity issues
  • Depression, anxiety, sadness, moodiness, excessive worry
  • Separation issues
  • Grief and loss
  • Divorce or separation of parents and family
  • Relocation and adjusting to a new school
  • Chronic illness of a family member or self
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • ADHD-hyperactivity or attention problems
  • Trouble making friends
  • Bullying
  • Wetting/soiling
  • Nightmares/night terrors
  • Traumatic stress from sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
  • Traumatic stress from accidents, witnessing violence, or a natural disaster
  • Compulsive or ritualistic behaviors
  • Attachment difficulties in adoption, foster, or biological families
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Phobias
  • Isolation or withdrawal
  • Behavioral issues 

Play therapy can also be beneficial for the following areas:

  • Develop an understanding of how they feel
  • Develop coping and problem solving skills
  • Reduce difficult behaviors that create negative consequences 
  • Increasing self-confidence
  • Work through conflicts 
  • Reduce their frustration
  • Improving communications