Play: The language of children
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation” -Plato
Many parents ask me, “Why Play Therapy?”. The simple answer; because it works! Play is the natural language of children so it would be the obvious choice when conducting counseling with a child. Many children lack the language abilities needed to express emotions and feelings. Play therapy provides a safe environment for kids to express themselves free of judgement. Using this type of therapy with kids can help provide a safe psychological distance from their problems. Through play, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, develop problem solving skills, and learn a variety of ways to relate to others.
Who benefits from Play Therapy?
The Association for Play Therapy recommends, “Children between the ages of 3 to 12 years old should participate in play therapy as an intervention to alleviate symptoms related to behavioral and emotional problems, as well as contribute to overall wellness and healthy development.” Although everyone, (yes even you boring adults) could benefit from more play; research suggests that play therapy is most appropriate for children ages 3 to 12. However, several studies show play therapy as an effective treatment for teenagers and even adults!
How will Play Therapy benefit my child?
Play therapy allows trained mental health counselors who specialize in this type of therapy, to assess and understand children’s play. It is used to help children cope with difficult emotions and find solutions to their problems. The play therapy setting allows children to confront these difficult emotions which in turn helps them find healthier solutions. Research shows that it can be effective with children experiencing a wide range of social and emotional issues.
Play therapy helps children:
Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
Learn to experience and express emotion.
Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities
Who practices Play Therapy?
A play therapist is a licensed mental health professional who has earned a Master’s or Doctorate degree in a mental health field with considerable general clinical experience and supervision. A registered play therapist must obtain a state license to practice mental health, have roughly 2 years and 2,000 clinical hours, 150 play therapy education hours, 500 clinical play therapy hours, and 50 hours of play therapy supervision. Whew! That’s a lot! It’s important to find a professional who has the education and experience of play therapy when looking for someone to work with your child. The Association for Play Therapy has an easy to access therapist directory that can help you find a provider that meets your needs. Click here to access their directory.
If you are interested in learning more about the services offered to children at Building Blocks Family Counseling- click here.
For more information on play therapy, check out the video below.