A Play therapist utilizes specially chosen toys and other medium such as sculpting, drawing, painting, clay work, sandtray, dollhouse and music to provide children the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings in a developmentally appropriate way. Play therapy gives children an outlet to express internal experiences and allows the therapist to intervene in a way that makes sense to them. The therapist is able to reflect a child’s feelings, recognize themes, point out patterns and may also teach them techniques to cope with their anger, socialize at school and identify their own feelings. In many cases the therapist may also work with the caretaker of the child and provide in home therapy and case-management.
“All children should be taught to unconditionally accept, approve, admire, appreciate, forgive, trust, and ultimately, love their own person.”
The Association for Play Therapy (APT) www.a4pt.org defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”
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Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them (Axline, 1947; Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002).
- Action Figures
- Art Play
- Dollhouse Play
- Puppet Theatre
- Sandtray Play
Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.
Adults are often able to verbalize their feelings, and when children play they speak to us in ways that allows them the opportunity to express what is going on internally. If children are unable to express difficult or painful emotions, it often results in a display of troubling behaviors. Play Therapy is a window into the minds of children, it allows them the opportunity to communicate and express their thoughts and emotions and gain successful resolution of their issues.