What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is to children what counseling is to adults. Play therapy utilizes play, children’s natural medium of expression, to help them express their feelings more easily through toys instead of words, thereby helping to prevent or resolve psycho-social challenges.
Games, toys and mediums such as clay, drawings and paint are used to help a child or adolescent to express their emotions, thoughts, wishes and needs. It helps them to understand muddled feelings and upsetting events that they have not had the chance or the skills to sort out properly.
Age group: children aged 3 through 11 years.
How does Play Therapy work?
A safe, confidential and caring environment is created which allows the child to play with as few limits as possible but as many as necessary (for physical and emotional safety). This allows healing to occur on many levels following our natural inner trend towards health. Play and creativity operate on impulses from outside our awareness – the unconscious. No medication is used.
The therapist may reflect back to the child observations of what has happened during the session if this is felt to be appropriate. Above all the child is given “Special Time”. So often in modern life we never seem to have enough time to spend with our children – just playing, just being there for them. The child is given strategies to cope with difficulties they face in life and which they themselves cannot change. It provides a more positive view of their future life.
When should Play Therapy be considered?
Play therapy is used to treat problems that are interfering with the child’s normal development. Such difficulties would be extreme in degree and have been occurring for many months without resolution. Reasons for treatment include, but are not limited to:
- temper tantrums
- aggressive behaviour
- non-medical problems with bowel or bladder control
- difficulties with sleeping or having nightmares
- experiencing worries or fears
- children who have experienced sexual or physical abuse
- the loss of a family