Play therapy is a method that allows children to express themselves through the use of a variety of activities made available to them including toys, fantasy play, or art. Play therapy is utilized when children are too young to talk about their feelings the way adults do or in conjunction with traditional therapy techniques to help facilitate identification and verbal expression of feelings. Within a safe and understanding environment, children are able to rehearse life interactions and to process underlying emotional concerns by allowing them to recreate experiences and emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, and frustration. Giving children an appropriate outlet for these feelings prevents these emotions from having to be expressed through maladaptive behavioral means. With the help of a trained therapist, emotional conflicts can be represented though play and ultimately be resolved as play evolves and children acquire more understanding and a sense of control over their situation. Play therapy has been proven to:
- Decrease acting-out behaviors
- Change children’s view of events
- Allow them to enjoy interactions with others through improved social skills
- Increase self-esteem
- Reestablish balance and a sense of well-being
- Reestablish and improve family relations.
The length of play therapy depends on a child’s developmental stage and the age of onset of the issue needing to be addressed. In addition to play therapy, collateral parent meetings may be scheduled when warranted to establish objectives of treatment, review progress made toward goals, and relay recommendations that can support the therapy process, such as behavioral management techniques to be implemented in the home.