What is Play Therapy?
[Parts of this section are adapted from VanFleet, 1998, A Parent's Guide to Filial Therapy. Printed in VandeCreek, Knapp, & Jackson (Eds.), Innovations in Clinical Practice: A Source Book (vol. 16). Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press, PO Box 15560, Sarasota, FL 34277.]
Play therapy is a type of mental health, educational, or developmental intervention that is designed to help children grow up as happy and well-adjusted as possible. It involves the use of play to communicate with children and to help children learn to solve problems and change their negative behaviors. Sometimes it involves the entire family.
At first, you might wonder why anyone would suggest play as a way to overcome children's problems.
Here's why play therapy is often recommended for children:
Play is the primary way that children...
• learn about the world
• understand how different things work
• express their thoughts and feelings
• develop their physical skills
• develop their mental skills
• develop effective social skills and bonds.
As children grow, their use of language becomes more sophisticated, but throughout childhood, they usually express much more of themselves in their play. We can understand our children better if we understand their play. By watching children play we often learn more about their thoughts, feelings, motivations, and struggles than by talking with them! Play has been called the "language of childhood," so if we re-learn that language, it can help us build even stronger relationships with our children. Play is not something trivial; on the contrary, it is one of the most critical elements of healthy child development!
Links to explore: