Children have complex needs, but are often unable to interact with normal therapeutic methods. A method called Play Therapy can be used to overcome communication problems and allow the therapist a means to help a troubled child. Here is some information about this important treatment technique.
What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a special process that focuses on children's need to express themselves through the use of play and toys. Children are encouraged to play as they wish with a trained play therapist who provides a safe and understanding environment. In this process a wide variety of toys are made available to children to encourage the expression of emotional concerns. Children are given the opportunity to express themselves through a variety of styles including art play, sand play, dramatic play and fantasy play.
Why Play Therapy for Children?
Children like to play. Children are unable to understand and talk about their feelings the way adults do and this makes adult therapies inappropriate in meeting children's special needs. Play becomes therapeutic to children as they give expression to their experiences and emotions. Children can recreate, in play, the experiences that are part of their anger, fears/sadness or frustrations currently influencing their behavior.
How Can Play Therapy Help My Child?
Through the play therapy process, children can change their personal view of events in the world and begin to better enjoy their interactions with others. When children recreate their frustrations or disappointments and then change the experience of that situation in their play, they begin to enjoy more of their play experiences and therefore, more of life's interactions. This leads to higher self-esteem and more enjoyment of activities with family, friends and peers, and parenting is more enjoyable.
What Happens In Play Therapy?
Through the play therapy process children create play that resembles the emotional experiences they are struggling with internally. These experiences usually cannot be expressed verbally. Children will select special toys to include in their play and use those toys to recreate issues that represent emotional conflicts that are important to the child. Beginning with this expression, the child's play evolves until the child gains a sense of understanding and comfort over this situation.
How Long Will Play Therapy Take?
Play therapy is a process that depends upon several factors in the child's past and present experiences. The two most important factors are the developmental stage of the child and secondly, the age of the child at the onset of the issue. Usually the more recent the events, the shorter the therapy length. The further back in the child's development that the onset of the issue occurred, the longer that play process will take.