WHAT IS PLAY THERAPY?
Play therapy is a therapy designed specifically for use with children and their families. In play therapy, children are encouraged to choose from a wide variety of toys that encourage the expression of emotional concerns. Children are given the opportunity to express themselves through a variety of styles including art, sand, drama and fantasy. Depending upon the presenting concerns other family members may participate in play therapy.
WHAT PLAY THERAPY CAN DO FOR YOUR CHILD:
Play Therapy is a natural, non-intrusive way for a child to communicate about the things that are troubling him or her. Play Therapy can help your child gain confidence in his or her own ability to solve problems, relate to others, and face challenges.
As children learn to master their problems in the therapy room, they can improve their functioning at home and in other learning environments.
Children use the play therapy process to recreate frustrating or disappointing experiences. As they recreate these experiences in the therapy room, children gain control over the experience.
They can then change the outcome of the experience for themselves.
As children master these situations they build higher self-esteem and the ability to enjoy a full range of activities with family, friends and peers. Improved relationships between children and parents often means parenting is also more enjoyable.
WHY PLAY THERAPY FOR CHILDREN?
Adult therapies often fail with children because they do not take into account the developmental differences between adults and children. Children (even those who are quite verbal) have not mastered the ability to verbally express their emotions and experiences. This is particularly true for the younger child.
While they may not have mastered talking about their feelings, we know that children love to play. Play becomes therapeutic to children as they give expression to their experiences and emotions. Through play therapy, children can recreate the experiences that are part of their anger, fear, sadness, or frustration. Recreating these experiences allows them to create new solutions to these previously unresolved situations.
Play therapy benefits children because it allows them to create therapeutic play at their developmental level. The presence of a play therapist allows children a sense of security when recreating emotionally stressful experiences. The therapist becomes a support and partner in exploring new ways of behaving.
WHAT IS EXPECTED FROM PARENTS DURING PLAY THERAPY?
Parents are an important part of the therapy process. Parents will be asked to meet with the therapist on a regular basis. In addition, the therapist may recommend that parents join the therapy sessions at certain points in the process. Parents also will be asked to contribute to their child's progress by following recommendations which may include activities outside the play therapy room that support the therapy process.