February 1-7 is National Play Therapy Week!
WHAT IS PLAY THERAPY?
“Play Therapy is based upon 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.” Virginia Axline.
Play Therapy is a powerful tool for addressing cognitive, behavioral, and emotional challenges. Licensed professionals use play therapeutically to help client’s better process their experiences and develop more effective strategies for managing their worlds.
Children who have experienced trauma, loss, and other life challenges need emotional healing. They are often seen as resilient and will “forget” as they move through life. This is NOT the case. Children show their feelings through their behaviors and need help releasing the difficult feelings they have buried in order to feel good about themselves and their world.
The toys are the Play Therapist’s tools. The child communicates to the therapist through their play. Play Therapists are trained to allow the child to express what they feel using a non-directive approach. Non-directive play therapy means “tracking, reflecting, and describing” what the child is doing while they play. This allows them the freedom to express their thoughts and feelings without questions that often lead them to say what they may or may not be thinking or feeling. Directive play therapy is also used for older children who may have the ability to talk about and process what they feel. Directive play therapy is using games, expressive art, bibliotherapy, and role-play that is planned by the therapist to help the child cope with what they have experienced.
Deciding whether or not to take your child to a play therapist is a personal choice. Children are seen in therapy for an array of reasons, such as behavioral issues (caused by bullying, grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, physical and sexual abuse, and crisis and trauma) and mental health disorders (i.e: anxiety, depression, attention deficit/hyperactivity or ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, academic and social impairment, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders).
Research suggests Play Therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.
To learn more about play therapy and find a registered play therapist in your area visit the website: www.a4pt.org.