Play Therapy

"Play Therapy is based on the fact that play is the child's natural medium of self expression.  It is an opportunity which is given to the child to 'play out' his feelings and problems just as, in certain types of adult therapy, an individual 'talks out' his difficulties" Play Therapy Virginia Axline   Play whether at home or in therapy has three purposes: motor, cognitive development and emotional resolution.  for children play is a rehearsal for life events and interactions.  Through play a child gains mastery over all area's of development.  By incorporating into the therapeutic process the child's natural self expression, the therapist can help the child process difficulties or learn new skills..  Children do not have the developmental skills to understand and talk about their feelings the way adults do.  By using play a children can express emotions and recreate experiences that are part of their feelings and thus influence their behavior.  the play therapy setting allows children to play at their own level in a safe environment.  This provides security for the child as he plays out emotionally disturbing behaviors.

Play therapy is beneficial to children by allowing them to change their view of situations in their lives and helps them enjoy relationships with others.  In talk therapy an adult will talk about a situation and recreate the event either through learning or looking at the situation differently ( reframing)  The process for children is very much the same.  By recreating a situation the child changes his experience of it and is able to understand it differently.  Play therapy can look random and un guided t times.  In fact children will naturally choose toys themselves that represent their conflict.  Their play evolves over time until he gains understanding and comfort.

The length of time a child spends in play therapy depends on two things.  First the child's developmental level. Second is the age of the child when the issue began.  Generally the further back in the child's development the longer the therapy process.

Parents and caregivers are an important part of the play therapy process.  parents will be asked to meet regularly with the therapist.  At times parents may be asked to join in the play process.  The parent may also be given recommendations to follow at home.  These activities will support the therapy process.

Suggested readings for parents
Axline, V (1969) Play Therapy NY: Ballantine Books.
Axline, V (1971) Dibs In Search of Self NY: Ballantine Books.
Moustakas, C (1997) Relationship Play Therapy Northvale, NJ: Aronson.
Norton, C, & Norton, B (1997) Reaching Children Through Play Therapy Denver: The Publishing Cooperative.

Suggested readings for children
Nerniroff, M. & Annunziata, J. (1990) The Child's First Book of Play Therapy Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.



Axline, Virginia (1969) Play Therapy Chapter 2  "A Method of Helping Problem Children Help themselves"  Play Therapy Brochure