What is play therapy?

Play therapy is usually employed with children between the ages of three and 11. Play becomes an important vehicle for children in terms of their self-expression, ability to communicate and learn. A healthy attitude towards play can promote self-awareness, self-acceptance and awareness and acceptance of others.

Play therapy can be nondirective, where the child is encouraged to find their own solutions to problems through play, or directive, in which the therapist will guide the child and work through troubling emotions using play. 

Play therapy can also be used as a diagnostic tool. A play therapist might observe how a child plays with toys (dolls, houses - familiar and realistic toys) and thereby attempt to identify the source of any presenting disturbing behaviour. 

Who benefits from play therapy?

Play is vital for a child's emotional, social, cognitive and creative development, so could be beneficial for any children who are exhibiting uncharacteristic, limiting or disturbing behaviours. Parents often blame themselves for their children's behaviour and feelings, but children respond to life disruptions in unique and individual ways and seeking professional help outside the family home is a worthwhile consideration.

Play therapy can help children better understand their feelings and life experiences, equipping them with tools for the present and future in terms of building relationships, resolving conflict and quelling anxieties.

Play therapists work with children with a range of problems from ADHD, anger and/or anxiety issues, those who have experienced parental divorce, loss or domestic violence and those who have been traumatised by abuse, whether emotional, physical or sexual

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Last updated on September 3 2015