The concept of Play Therapy may sound unconventional to some, but in reality Play Therapy is one of the most used and beneficial forms of therapy to help children overcome whatever problems they are facing.
While most teenagers and adults are able to verbally communicate their troubles. A child may find it difficult to open up to a stranger and share their problems, or even fully understand them for themselves.
Play Therapy is a tool that therapists use to engage with children
who might not have the vocabulary, cognition, or ability to
communicate their internal feelings and mental processes.
So how does play therapy work?
Child therapist will have a variety of toys, games, and activities that are designed to encourage the child to feel safe in their exploration, and expression of self. A child therapist will be able to use the items in session to expand their understanding of the child, and further assist them in areas they might need help in.
Ethan is a 6 year old child whose teacher refers him to the school therapist because the child behaves with aggression in the classroom. In the therapy room, Ethan refuses to talk about his behaviors and seems to not completely understand the reason for his actions. The therapist puts out a set of blocks and watches as Ethan begins to make communities with many police cars and police stations. Ethan acts out a police officer talking about “putting bad guys away” as he moves lego people from one building to the “jailhouse.” The therapist inquires about what they notice Ethan acting out and from there Ethan opens up and says that he will be a police when he is older because he wants to get rid of bad people. This opens the dialogue between therapist and child about “bad people” and how Ethan behaves aggressively as a protective factor. From this, the therapist is able to develop a deeper understanding of Ethan’s history. Learning that at home, he has recently experienced domestic violence and has developed the mentality that he must fight off “bad people” or they will get away with their actions.
The therapist will use these moments as guidelines for future sessions. Through observing Ethan play, they can converse, and create new games that help teach Ethan management of his temper and the underlying concept of fear.
Play therapy is used to help children navigate through complicated emotions.
It allows for every child to exit their reality and enter a different world where they have control.
Play therapy is proven to help children improve in social situations, emotional management, and anxiety.
Whether a child is overcoming a phobia, illness, crisis, transition, or an unidentified trigger, play therapy can be used for a child to escape their problems for a period of time, and explore their imagination.