Play therapy is therapy through the use of toys and playing. Toys are used as a language for children to teach and explore. The purpose of play therapy is to express feelings, work on behaviors and learn appropriate problem-solving and decision making skills. Play therapy also helps kids learn to socialize and relate more to others.
Play therapy closes the communication gap. Younger children are not developed enough to express exactly how they are feeling through languages. What they are saying is expressed and explored through themes that might develop during play therapy. For example, a child who has been in a car accident may crash cars together. Similarly a child experiencing a divorce in the family, issues are seen in how the toys communicate with each other possibly through arguing or yelling.
Play therapy works by children exploring and “playing out” different scenarios until they have resolved or “processed” what is going on. Children are also able to take on different, various roles in plays such as a victim or a super hero. Children are encouraged to play out scenarios in a safe place. Play therapy encourages expression with as few limits as possible. Play therapy research shows this mostly benefits children ages 3 to 12, but play therapy also has beneficial elements that can be used with adolescents and adults.
Why do I choose play therapy? I personally love play therapy because I’ve seen it work. Kids are much more willing to sit down with providers if they are on the same level. Most kids are unable to sit down and “talk it out” for an entire hour. Play therapy invites a more relaxed setting and can deepen a relationship with the therapist by letting them into the child's world. Play is a child's work, and what better way to work on mental health than using their language.