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What is play therapy?

Play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all of which make use of one or more of the natural benefits of play. It is a special therapeutic approach for working with children, adolescents, their families and/or care providers.Play is the natural medium of children. Usually, children have not developed the cognitive or verbal skills that adults use to discuss feelings, emotions, and experiences in therapy. A safe and structured playroom environment is established where children are encouraged to play in ways that reveal concerns, problems, and issues they are struggling with.

A qualified play therapist is able to guide the play of children in ways that are therapeutic and healing. Parents, family members or care providers are often included in the play. This allows the play therapist to observe and interpret the full range of systemic/relational dynamics that are important to the child or adolescent. The play therapist is then able to enter into the intrapsychic and systemic reality of the child resulting in appropriate suggestions and interventions.

Play therapy allows:
1. Children to communicate ideas, thoughts, fantasies, feelings and experience through play.
2. Children to recreate and resolve events (such as trauma, divorce, abuse or death of a parent or family member).
3. Children work though various problems in play.
4. Children can rehearse and master skills and other techniques through play.
5. A window for adults, including parents, caregivers, and foster parents, into a child’s world.
6. Children to express themselves as a metaphor for conflicts, emotions, and situations experienced.
7. Children a process of energy enhancement (”doing” versus “talking”).
8. Children a less threatening approach to talk therapy.
9. Children to helps to relieve feelings of tension and stress.
10. Children to develop self-control, self-responsibility, and appropriate self-esteem.
Length of therapy
Each Child processes information differently. The length of therapy depends on several factors of the child’s experiences. The child’s developmental stage and the age of the child at the onset of the issue are taken into consideration. Often times, the more recent the issue, the shorter the therapy.

Parental involvement
Parents are encouraged to be a part of the play therapy process by meeting with the therapist on a regular basis. Involvement provides parents with practical strategies for managing problematic behaviors at home. When appropriate, parents may be asked to participate in the play process and be asked to do activities outside the session.