What Is Play Therapy?
Have you noticed changes in your child’s behavior and moods that concern you?
Do these changes appear to be ongoing? Have you tried to address the problems but they persist?
If so, consider play therapy as a means to help your child to relate to you more positively, to cope with difficult emotions and to work on solutions to their problems.
Children experience many of the same difficulties as adults, such as family disruption, problems coping with extreme emotions, ADHD, depression, anxiety, and so on. They may feel overwhelmed or isolated. Changes in behavior may occur. The changes can include things like increased disruptive behaviors, increased anger and aggression, withdrawal from family, withdrawal from previously-enjoyed activities, and changes in sleep or eating patterns.
When adults feel these types of ongoing distress, they may decide to seek therapy. In therapy, adults talk about their problems in order to seek insight or a fresh perspective, and to develop changes in behavior to relieve their stress. Children, however, are not developmentally capable of the abstract thinking needed to verbally examine a problem and consider alternatives. They are capable of learning through experience, and this is where play therapy comes in.
Children naturally explore their world through play. They use their senses, they build, they create. They play out different roles, such as parent, baby, teacher, hero, or villain. Have you ever come across your child playing house or playing with dolls, and recognized some of your family dialogue? Play offers children the ability to experiment and experience.
Play therapists are trained to use play intentionally to help children (generally between the ages of 3 to 10) to resolve their problems. The play therapist uses opportunities in the child’s play to interact both verbally and through play. The play therapist can gain insight into the child and their situation. They also work together with the child’s caretakers. Interactions are designed to support children to understand their feelings and to cope with difficulties. Children can play out different responses and can rehearse alternate behaviors. As the child gets relief from their stress and discomfort, their behavior becomes more positive.