Play is a way of exploring and understanding the world that begins when we are babies and continues our whole life. Play provides opportunities for physical, social and emotional development, encourages imagination and creativity, and fosters confidence. It allows children to learn safely from mistakes. Play Therapy is used to promote cognitive development, insight about and resolution of inner conflicts or dysfunctional thinking.
Play Therapy can be effective for children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioural and learning problems. Family change, anger management, depression, self esteem, anxiety and self regulation can be supported through therapeutic play-based interventions. Other complex life experiences that can be transformed through Play Therapy can include transitional issues or stressors such as trauma, abuse, neglect, divorce, loss/grief, hospitalization, chronic illness, domestic violence, and natural disasters.
The Therapeutic Use of Play in Counselling can:
- Help your child improve communication skills
- Learn to experience and express their emotions
- Develop respect for and acceptance of themselves
- Encourage self-efficacy and a sense of confidence in their own abilities
- Cultivate empathy and respect for others
- Explore a variety of ways to relate to others, and improve understanding social relationships
- Allow your child to re-enact or play out difficult experiences to gain a sense of mastery over them
- Improve problem solving skills and develop new and creative solutions
- Strengthen their sense of self, which helps to reduce anxiety
About Play Therapy
The play therapist works with the child holistically through a variety of play materials (puppets, toys, pretend play, therapeutic stories...) usingboth child-centered and structured approaches to optimize self expression and development. The positive therapeutic relationship that develops between the therapist and child during play therapy sessions provides a corrective emotional experience that supports healing. The therapist observes and responds to the child's play actions and narratives to foster self-awareness, self-understanding and acceptance. When needed, the therapist elaborates or adds elements to deepen meaning and help the child re-organize their experience. Play Therapy is especially appropriate for children who are developmentally between 3 and 12 years of age.