Play therapy can take nearly any form or approach. For example, there is client-centered play therapy, cognitive-behavioral play therapy, Adlerian play therapy, etc. The goal of play therapy is to assist children in understanding themselves and resolving conflicts and problems in their lives.
Play therapy allows children to explore emotions and problems that are too difficult to talk about with another person. Play therapy assists children in becoming independent, well-adjusted and well developed. Play therapy helps children become responsible for behaviors, develop solutions to their problems, develop self-acceptance and respect for others, learn to express emotions appropriately and learn social skills and relational skills with family.
The child is at the heart of Play Therapy and is given freedom, within the structure the therapist provides, to explore his or her ideas and feelings about self and others through play. The experience is different from that of playing with friends, siblings, parents or other family members. The play therapy session becomes a time for the child to experiment with change, learn about choice, self-responsibility and self direction and resolve emotional difficulties and inner conflicts.
Play therapy has been used and shown to be effective for a wide range of problems that children face. Children with a wide range of mental health issues and behavioral problems benefit from play therapy, including those who:
- have experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse, physical and emotional neglect
- have witnessed domestic abuse (domestic violence)
- have parents with physical and/or mental illnesses
- have had one or more deaths of family members and loved ones
- have significant behavior problems, including aggressive behavior
- show signs of depression or anxiety
- experience nightmares and other sleep problems
Overall, Play Therapy is one of the most effective types of therapy for children and is an important part of our practices at The Counseling Connection.