You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. – Plato
Understanding Play Therapy
Play therapy is a very effective approach for people of all ages, personalities and needs. This multi-faceted approach helps experienced therapists create a safe and comfortable environment in which clients can feel open and comfortable sharing their thoughts and emotions. Play therapy is most widely used to help treat children and teens, although adults and senior citizens can benefit from this approach as well.
Play therapy incorporates board games, card games and video games into the therapy process. Sessions often begin with the therapist asking the client a set of questions to understand the client’s current state of mind. When the client and the therapist begin playing a game, the therapist can explore the client’s thoughts and emotions in different game scenarios. In addition, the comfortable setting of a familiar game allows clients to feel more relaxed and open when they talk about past experiences or traumas.
In most cases, play therapy is used to treat children and teens who have experienced trauma or who show signs of behavioral, social or learning disorders. Play therapy for children can be nondirective or directive. Nondirective play therapy allows children and teens to create their own rules for the games, allowing them to express their thoughts and emotions through how they play the game. During directive play therapy, the therapist clearly outlines the rules of the games and models fairness and social skills throughout the session. In both types of play therapy, the therapist will bridge the gap between what happens during the game and the child’s real world experiences.
Play therapy can also help parents who struggle to discipline their children. During play therapy sessions, parents are often encouraged to join in and use the time to bond with their children. This allows children to feel more comfortable with and establish a stronger connection to their parents. During sessions, parents can also develop techniques to help redirect their children. Caregivers can learn how to help children shift from being disobedient to engaging in fun activities without using the word “no.”
Help Your Child Overcome His Or Her Struggles With Play Therapy
Regardless of your child’s specific needs, play therapy can help. One of our experienced therapists can help your child work through emotional, social and behavioral issues. Through creative expression and the support and guidance of a skilled, compassionate therapist, it’s possible for your child to develop healthy ways of being in and relating with the world.
If your child struggles with social skills or is somewhere on the autism spectrum, your child’s therapist will tailor the play therapy session to teach him or her how to communicate effectively as well as share and process emotions. For example, if your child gets upset after losing game, your child’s therapist can help him or her reflect on thoughts and emotions, ultimately helping your child cope with a loss. In addition, throughout each play therapy session, your child’s therapist will model both healthy verbal and non-verbal social skills.
If your child is struggling through a separation, divorce or another loss or has suffered a traumatic experience, his or her therapist will use play therapy to create a supportive and safe environment. Many children are able to open up and express difficult thoughts and emotions otherwise kept quiet through play. By allowing your child to play games during therapy sessions, it also makes recounting negative experiences less overwhelming and easier to talk about.
If disciplining your child has become increasingly difficult, play therapy sessions can also provide you with helpful tips and techniques on how to improve your child’s behavior. Moreover, when you connect with your child during play therapy sessions, you have the opportunity to strengthen your bond with him or her, which encourages positive communication between the two of you.
Since 1994, our Personal Growth Counseling therapists have successfully helped countless children and teens with a variety of different issues learn, grow and find relief through play therapy. No matter how your child struggles in life, it is possible for your child to experience hope and feel happy, calm, focused and connected.
Help Your Child Move In A Positive Direction
If you would like to learn more about how play therapy can help your child, we invite you to call us for a complimentary 20-minute phone consultation. We’re happy to discuss your child’s needs and answer any questions you have about play therapy and our practice.