Why Play Therapy for Children?
Children are unable to understand and talk about their feelings the way adults do and this makes adult therapies inappropriate in meeting children’s needs. Play becomes therapeutic to children as they give expression to their experiences and emotions. Children recreate, in play, the experiences that are part of their anger, fears, sadness or frustrations currently influencing their behavior. The relationship with the therapist allows children a sense of security when recreating emotionally stressful experiences.
During play therapy, children create play that resembles the difficult or traumatic experiences they are struggling with internally. When facilitated by a trained play therapist, the play becomes focused on the purposes of emotional healing.Through the play therapy process children create play that resembles the emotional experiences they are struggling with internally.These experiences usually cannot be expressed verbally.
The Play Room is viewed as the child’s “kingdom” where they are free to explore and express themselves through various mediums such as fantasy play, sandplay, puppets and miniatures.
Children use toys to recreate issues that represent emotional conflicts that are important to the child. Beginning with this expression, the child’s play evolves until the child gains a sense of understanding and comfort over this situation.
This leads to a reduction of symptoms (i.e. acting out and aggressive behaviors, somatic complaints,withdrawal or regression, etc.) and the reestablishment of balance in the child’s sense of well-being.
Play therapists are trained to assess and understand the metaphorical content of a child’s play. Play therapists use their understanding of play to increase a child’s coping skills and to translate their understanding of the play to the adults involved in the child’s life. In the playroom, children can safely confront their problems in a protected environment and also learn to confine, define and master their problems.
Play Therapy Can Help Children
- Take responsibility for their behavior
- Come to understand the impact (cause & effect) of their behaviors
- Replace inappropriate behaviors with more effective and successful behaviors
- Develop creative and lasting solutions to problems
- Gain greater acceptance of self and others
- Improve social skills