Play Therapy for Children
Each child is unique, and so requires a unique approach. Our agenda is not to ‘fix’ the child, but to connect with them, understand and support them, and help them get in touch with their own strengths and knowing.
Through play therapy, we discover the child’s inner world, and we come to understand their outer world. Therapy with children is different than with adults, because children are oriented towards creative and metaphorical expression. They need to be drawn out in a safe setting.
Most importantly, play therapy works through relationship. Many of the problems children face are due to the isolation they feel; unable to communicate whats really going on for them, they withdraw, or act out. So the therapeutic relationship is central to the success of the process.
The challenges children face are related to their social, school, family and peer context. Work with the child involves attention to what is happening around them as well.
As far as possible, we involve the resources that are available in their environment, and include parents or caregivers in the process.
About Play Therapy
Children often have difficulty expressing in words how they feel and how experiences have affected them. In Play Therapy, children are not expected to enter the adult therapist’s world of talk.
Because play is the natural world for a child, they can express their thoughts and feelings at their own developmental level and at their own pace.
When children can confront their problems in the play session, they are able to develop more appropriate resolutions and gain insight about how to handle situations.
The Play Therapist is trained to enter the child’s world of play and to interact with them, providing them with emotional support to help bring understanding to their thoughts and feelings. In this way, Play Therapy also helps children for whom talking may be difficult.
The process is adult-facilitated, but child led. They choose their own toys and activities, and are not directed by questions or asked to do things.
The therapist enters the child’s world and follows their lead, participating in play at the child’s invitation or direction. A relationship of trust is developed, and the Play Therapy room becomes a place of safety.
Duration and frequency
Each play therapy session lasts 45-50 minutes and is usually held weekly. Studies have shown the average length of time for a child to receive play therapy is 20 weeks, although some children need fewer or additional sessions.
Play therapy especially benefits children 3-12, helping them take responsibility for behaviors, establish creative solutions to problems, accept themselves and others, experience and express emotions, learn respect for feelings of others, cultivate relational skills with family, gain pride in their abilities, and more!
* Adopted from the Association for Play Therapy