Birds fly, fish swim, and children play
by Dr. Garry Landreth
Play is the child’s Language. This means that in play, children express what their lives are like now, what their needs are, or how they wish things could be. Children use words and actions to communicate. Acting out can be seen as an attempt to communicate a message. When a child feels understood, the need to act out a message ends.
Children sometimes do not have the ability to articulate what they are thinking or feeling and to use abstract verbal reasoning. When children come into therapy, most of them lack the ability to sit down and use words to tell the therapist about their problems. However, children are able to “play out” their experiences and feelings because play is the natural medium of communication for them.
Play therapy is an approach to counseling children in which the play therapist uses toys, arts and crafts, games, and other play media to communicate with clients using the “language” of children, which is the “language” of play. Play therapy creates a safe environment where children can express themselves, take appropriate risks by trying new things, and learn more about themselves, others, and the world.
Dr. Dee Ray at the University of North Texas created the following videos that provide a fantastic and helpful overview of Play Therapy. The first video describes play therapy for parents, and the second video explains it for children.
Play therapy makes a difference. Play is an enjoyable, fun activity that elevates our spirits and brightens our outlook on life. Play relieves feelings of stress and boredom and, most importantly, helps us express ourselves.
What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all applying the therapeutic benefits of play. Play therapy helps children to address and resolve their own problems and builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them.
APT defines play therapy as the “systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”
What does Play Therapy help?
Play therapy helps children:
- Become more responsible for their 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 a better assuredness about their abilities
Play therapy aims to help a child’s growth and development. The practice of play therapy requires extensive, specialized education, training and experience. With our knowledge and background, we are confident that we can set your child up for success.
If you’re interested in learning more about play therapy and how it can help your child grow, contact us today.