The Goddard School

 

What is Play Therapy?

The value of children’s play is sometimes largely underestimated by adults. Children are not able to talk through their feelings and struggles as adults can in their therapy.  Therefore, play therapy allows the child to use the language of their world, play, to find healing.  Play Therapy allows children to use their normal communicative process, play, as their “words” to express their feelings, work though their stress, and gain more adaptive behaviors for their struggles.  This form of therapy is very beneficial for children, ages 3-11, to address and resolve their problems in the following areas:

Abuse
Aggression
Adoption
Anger
Anxiety
Attention-Seeking
Bullying

Chronic Illness
Depression
Divorce
Family Stress
Grief and Loss
Learning Problems
Neglect

New Sibling
Relational Skills
Relocation
Separation Anxiety
Stress
Transitions
Trauma

Children act-out or act-in to alert the adults in their lives that something is bothering them that they do not know how to cope with appropriately.  The behaviors may be seen at home or at school, and can include various behaviors such as biting, hitting, yelling, bed-wetting, soiling their pants, having nightmares, or withdrawing and isolating from others.  Once these behaviors are noticed by the adults in their world, children hope the adult sees that they are struggling with finding a way to cope with a stressor in their life.  It is then the adult’s responsibility to provide the child a safe place to work through this problem and find a healthier way of coping with it.  Play therapy is a very natural way for children to guide themselves through dealing with the struggles they are facing in their lives.  Play therapy gives them a safe, private environment to explore their emotions through the use of toys, art, and imagination.
In play therapy children explore their emotions and life-stressors at their own pace.  As the child plays in the therapy room, the therapist can guide the child to explore deeper in some areas of their play.  It is common to see a child’s play mimic experiences from their own life experiences, and once the therapist’s playroom becomes a safe environment for them to share their world with the therapist, their play mimics the struggles in their lives.  By playing through these struggles and having a therapist there to validate their feelings, they are able to explore these feelings safely and work through them until their unsuccessful or unpleasant ways of coping are no longer needed,
My therapy room includes various toys and activities for each child to find their most comfortable way to express themselves, including arts and crafts, toys, and a sandtray table.

 


 
© Copyright 2006 Crystal L. Stevenson, MA, LPC
Austin, TX (512) 796-1128