The Importance of Play Therapy

By Megan Karin Goddard, LCSW, RPT Sushine State Counseling Center, LLC

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Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to recognize the importance of Play Therapy as  “Play” is a child’s natural language and toys are the child’s words. Play Therapy expands self-expression, self-knowledge, self-actualization and self-efficacy. Play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, connects us to people in a positive way, stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulates our emotions, and boosts our ego (Landreth, 2002).

Through Play Therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of 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. The Association of Play Therapy (APT) defines Play Therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”

This week we have complied a list of positive impacts of play therapy according to the Association of Play Therapy:

1. Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings (Gil, 1991).

 2. In play therapy, toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language (Landreth, 2002).

3. Through play, therapists may help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits (Pedro-Carroll & Reddy, 2005).

4. The positive relationship that develops between therapist and child during play therapy sessions can provide a corrective emotional experience necessary for healing (Moustakas, 1997).

5. Play therapy may also be used to promote cognitive development and provide insight about and resolution of inner conflicts or dysfunctional thinking in the child (O’Connor & Schaefer, 1983; Reddy, Files-Hall, & Schaefer, 2005).

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