What is Play Therapy?
Children naturally communicate through play. Therefore, play therapy uses a childn's world in order for them to express feelings, develop problem-solving skills, modify behavior and learn new ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.
How Play Therapy Works
If children could resolve their problems effectively on their own, they would. When they have exhausted their coping mechanisms and problem solving tools, problems arise, manifesting in acting out behaviors, fears and withdrawn behavior, among other issues. If may be developmentally inappropriate for a child to respond positively to traditional "talk therapy". Play therapy is utilized to help children cope with difficult emotions, change the way they think and feel about their concerns thereby allowing them to find healthier solutions to problems. Even the most troubling problems can be confronted in play therapy and lasting resolutions can be discovered, rehearsed, mastered and adapted into lifelong strategies.
Benefits of Play Therapy
Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Reddy, Files-Hall& amp; Schaefer 2005)
Play therapy helps children:
- Become more responsible for 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 emotions
- Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others
- Learn new social skills and relational skills with family
- Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities