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What is Play Therapy?

Plato said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

Children & adolescents don’t always have the ability to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, nor have they developed the ability to fully problem-solve tough situations.

Play Therapy is a modality of treatment that uses play and creative means to allow the person to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences. The play room, as safe atmosphere is created to give the child the space to act out their experiences, learn social and coping skills and the ability to problem-solve.  



What does Play Therapy look like? What can I expect?

Play sessions will look a lot like play. Sometimes it will only be the client and therapist in session, while other times family and caregivers may be invited into play. During the play session, there are typically very little rules and the client is allowed to make choices and lead the way. As needed, limits are set, but done in a way that allows for balancing expressive freedom within safety and limitations. Ultimately, this helps children make choices and develop self-responsibility. By taking a client-centered approach, the client will reveal things to the therapist that are important to them. Sometimes the therapist will be an observer and sometimes the therapist will be invited into play. The therapeutic toys and supplies in the room have been carefully selected to allow the client to play out themes of real life, gain mastery of skills and allow for creative expression.


Sometimes during therapy your child’s behavior may appear to get worse before it improves. This is normal, as it is common for the child to go through a period of sorting through intense feelings in play therapy.


The play therapist will also provide you (the parent or guardian) with strategies to help at home and to build upon the work done in therapy.


Who will benefit from Play Therapy?

Children, adolescents, families and even adults can benefit from Play Therapy techniques. Those who struggle to develop trusting relationships, play can help break down that barrier. Play therapy can also benefit those who struggle with attention-seeking behaviors and aggression.


What’s the difference between Play Therapy and playing with my child at home?

Play therapy is not the same as playing. Play therapy uses your child’s natural tendency to “play out” their feelings, worries and life situations in the presence of a specially trained play therapist. The play therapist helps the child to feel accepted, understood and gain a sense of control or understanding about difficult feelings or situations.


How long does a child receive Play Therapy?

The length of time varies from client to client. Research shows that a minimum of 20 sessions is recommended, with most long-term changes occurring around 40 sessions. It really depends on the client’s personality, intensity of presenting problems and implementation of strategies at home.

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