Play therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach primarily used to help children age 3 to 12 years to explore their lives and freely express repressed thoughts and emotions through play. Therapeutic play normally takes place in a safe, comfortable playroom, where very few rules or limits are imposed on the child, encouraging free expression and allowing the therapist to observe the child’s choices, decisions and play style. The goal is to help children learn to express themselves in healthier ways, become more respectful and empathetic and discover new and more positive ways to solve problems.
Play therapy helps to decrease those behavioural and emotional difficulties that interfere significantly with a child’s normal functioning. Inherent in this aim is improved communication and understanding between the child and his parents. Less obvious goals include improved verbal expression, the ability for self-observation, improved impulse control more adaptive ways of coping with anxiety and frustration and improved capacity to trust and to relate to others. In this type of treatment play therapy is used to treat problems that are interfering with the child’s normal development.
What is Play Therapy? | When It is Used?
Play therapy is used when children with social or emotional deficits learn to communicate better, change their behaviour, develop problem-solving skills and relate to others in positive ways. It is appropriate for children undergoing or witnessing stressful events in their lives, such as a serious illness or hospitalization, domestic violence, abuse, traumas, family crisis or upsetting changes in their environment.
Play therapy can help children with academic and social problems like:
- Learning Disabilities
- Behavioural Disorders
- Grief & Anger
- Difficulties with Sleeping
- Worries or Fears
As well as those with Attention Deficit Disorders or who are on the Autism Spectrum. ADHD and non-medical problems with bowel or bladder control. Play therapy plays an important role for children as for others too.
How Does Play Therapy Work?
Play therapy responds to the unique developmental needs of young children, who often express themselves better through play activities than through verbal communication. The therapist uses play and other creative activities to communicate with the child and observe how the child uses these activities to express, thoughts and feelings that are not expressed in words. Play therapies are well trained in child development, attachment and the use of play as a way to communicate with children. It is a recognized therapeutic approach, such as child-centred, cognitive behavioural, gestalt therapy.
There are two approaches to play therapy:
- Nondirective Play Therapy is based on the principle that children can resolve their own issues given the right conditions and the freedom to play with limited instruction and supervision.
- Directive Play Therapy uses more input from the therapist to help speed up results. Play Therapists use both approaches, depending on the circumstances.
Furthermost, play therapy is becoming an increasingly important 100% for trained play therapists to also confront children’s problems, within a clinical play therapy setting. Children are instructed on how to find healthier solutions, change the way they feel towards a certain situation and resolve their concerns. Through play, therapists may help children learn more appropriately adaptive behaviour when there are deficits in a child’s emotional or social skills. As a result, children are able to learn to communicate with others express their feelings, modify their own behaviour to develop more effective coping skills and learn ways to relate to other peoples.
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