How Play Therapy, Treats and Benefits Children and Some Adults

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

What is play therapy?

Play therapy is form of therapy used primarily for children, That's because children may not be able to process their own emotions or articulate problems to parents or other adults.

While it may look like an ordinary playtime,play therapy can be much more than that.

A trained therapist can use playtime to observe and gain insights into a child's problems. The therapist can then help the child explore emotions and deal with unresolved trauma. Through play, children can learn new coping mechanisms and how to redirect inappropriate behaviors.

Play therapy is practiced by a variety of licensed mental health professionals, like psychologists and psychiatrists, It's also practiced by behavioral and occupational therapists, physical therapists, and social workers.

In addition, the Association for Play Therapy offers specialized training programs and advanced credentials for licensed mental health professionals, school counselors,and school psychologists.

Benefits of play therapy

Acoording to the professional organization Play Therapy International , up to 71 percent of children referred to play therapy may experience positive change.

While some children might start off with some hesitation, trust in the therapist tends to grow. As they become more creative or more verbal in their play.

Some of the potential benefits of play therapy are:

  • Taking more responsibility for certain behaviors

  • Developing coping strategies and creative problem-solving skills

  • Self-respect

  • Empathy and respect for others

  • Alleviation of anxiety

  • Learning to fully experience and express feelings

  • Stronger family relationships

Play therapy can also encourage use of language or improve fine and gross motor skills.

If your chid has a diagnosed mental or physical illness, play therapy doesn't replace medications or any other necessary treatments. Play therapy can be used alone or alongside other therapies.

When play therapy is used

Although people of all ages can benefit from play therapy, it's typically used with children between the ages of 3 and 12. Play therapy may be helpful in a variety of circumstances, such as:

  • Facing medical procedures, chronic illness,or palliative care

  • Developmental delay or learning disabilities

  • Problem behaviors in school