What is Play Therapy?
Initially developed in the turn of the 20th century, today play therapy incorporates a diverse range of interventions utilising the therapeutic power of play. Play therapy is different from regular play since the therapist strategically helps the child to approach and resolve their own problems.
Play therapy is based on the natural way that children learn about themselves, their feelings, relationships in the world around them. Through play therapy, children learn important social and friendship skills, develop problem-solving abilities and gain an understanding of emotions and how to express emotions in appropriate ways. Play offers a safe psychological distance from their difficulties and promotes creativity and expression of thoughts and feelings.
Play Therapy may be defined 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" (Association for Play Therapy US, 2013, para. 7).
How Does Play Therapy Work?
Children may come to play therapy to resolve a wide range of problems. Young children often use their own problem solving tools that may not be very effective: they misbehave, argue, or act out at home, with their peers, and at education settings. Trained play therapists are able to assess and understand children's play. Play therapy utilizes play to strategically help children cope with difficult feelings and find solutions to their problems. By addressing problems in the Play Therapy room, children find solutions that are more effective and age appropriate. Play therapy helps children to become problem-solvers when they face with difficult situations in their lives. It is believed that even the most difficult problems can be addressed in play therapy and effective solutions can be discovered, practised, mastered and become lifelong strategies.
How Long Does Play Therapy Take?
Our play therapy sessions usually last about 50 minutes. Sessions are held weekly. Research shows that it takes an average of 20 play therapy sessions to address the problems of the typically developing child. Some children may have much faster progress while more serious problems may take longer to be resolved.
Adapted from Association for Play Therapy US, 2013