As a parent I am curious to know more about play therapy. What does this therapy entail, and is it beneficial?
Play therapy is a mode of therapy that helps children to explore their feelings, to express themselves and to make sense of their life’s experiences. Play is children’s natural medium to learn communicate and to explore the world. Recovery from a crisis and its aftermath can be facilitated by play therapists allowing a child freedom of expression in a safe and trusting environment. It is appropriate for young people of all ages, but is most often used for children aged between three and 12 years.
Conventional adult therapies may be inappropriate for children who struggle to put their feelings into words. During play therapy, children do these same things using their imagination. Children who are referred for play therapy are generally experiencing emotional and/or behavioural problems. These problems may manifest themselves in a variety of ways for example, the child may seem very unhappy, may be withdrawn or difficult to control, or may have difficulties in managing relationships. These difficulties may have occurred due to particular reasons they may be the result of an experience which might have been traumatic or a distressing life event.
Whatever the reasons, the child’s behaviour indicates that they are troubled.The play therapy room is stocked with therapeutic toys for children to play. Sand and art materials are utilised to provide children with the opportunity for free and creative expression.
Activities may be directed by the play therapist, like the child may be asked to draw/paint/mix clay freely. Puppets and costumes are used so children may “try on” different roles and act or re-enact scenarios. The kitchen, food, and dolls are used to access the nurturing side of children, while some toys just allow children to express their anger or aggression.