Play therapy uses toys, art, and other hands-on techniques to allow children to express their feelings in ways that they cannot through words.
Goals of Play Therapy
From the outside looking in you may think that a child in play therapy is just having fun, but therapists use things like toys and art to observe a child’s behavior so they can assess, prevent, and treat specific challenges or psychosocial issues. During the time that a child is playing, a therapist is observing behaviors, identifying patterns, and looking for signs that can help identify what is going on with the child.
Playtime allows children to not think through the complexities of social, emotional, or mental health issues. Instead, they will behave naturally and allow the therapist the opportunity to see a more complete picture through the child’s expressions and actions. Children can also express things in play therapy that they may not know they are feeling, such as acting out grief with a doll who is sad and misses a family member. Play therapy is most commonly used to help children process stressful events or address behavioral or mental health issues such as:
- Changes like a move or a divorce
- Sickness, especially after hospitalization
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Domestic violence
- Natural disasters
- Depression and anxiety
- Anger management or aggression
- School or social issues
Benefits of Play Therapy
In addition to helping therapists find out more about what is going on with a child, play therapy can provide several benefits to a child by:
- Building confidence and self-assuredness
- Learning ways to interact with others in social situations
- Cultivating empathy
- Developing problem-solving skills and strategies that they can use in real-life situations
- Expressing emotions in a healthy way
Sometimes the therapist or family members may be involved in the play therapy, but that is determined by the therapist.
A Proven Approach to Working with Children in South Jordan, Utah
Research has shown that play therapy is an effective treatment to help children of all ages, and can help family members as well who are involved in the therapy or in other individual and family therapy sessions. You can talk to your pediatrician about getting a referral for play therapy, or call us directly to schedule a time to discuss whether it’s the right option for your child.