What is Play Therapy And How Does It Work?

What is the concept of play therapy?

Play therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on children. Since children may not be able to process their own feelings or express concerns to their parents or other adults, this is a concern.

Although it can appear to be just another game, play therapy can be much more.

Playtime may be used by a professional therapist to observe and gain insight into a child’s problems. Following that, the therapist will assist the child in exploring feelings and dealing with unresolved trauma. Children may learn new coping strategies as well as how to redirect inappropriate actions through play.

Psychologists and psychiatrists are among the accredited mental health providers who use play therapy. Behavioral and occupational therapists, physical therapists, and social workers all use it.

Registered mental health practitioners, school counsellors, and school psychologists may also benefit from the Association for Play Therapy’s specialised training programmes and advanced credentials.

The advantages of play therapy:

According to the professional association Play Therapy International, up to 71% of children who are referred to play therapy will benefit.

Although some children will be hesitant at first, their confidence in the therapist continues to develop over time. The child may become more imaginative or expressive in their play as they become more relaxed and their bond strengthens.

The following are some of the possible advantages of play therapy:

  • assuming greater accountability for such activities
  • developing coping mechanisms and problem-solving abilities
  • respect for oneself
  • compassion and consideration for others
  • reduction of anxiety
  • gaining the ability to completely experience and convey emotions
  • improved social abilities
  • family bonds that are deeper

Play therapy can also help with language development and fine and gross motor skills.

Play therapy should not substitute drugs or other prescribed therapies if your child has a diagnosed psychiatric or physical condition. Play therapy may be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments.

When should play therapy be used?

While play therapy can help people of all ages, it is most often used for children aged 3 to 12. Play therapy may be beneficial in a number of situations, including:

  • Undergoing surgical treatments, living with a chronic condition, or receiving palliative treatment.
  • Learning disabilities or developmental delays.
  • Violent or frustrated behaviour at school is a problem behaviour.
  • Divorce, breakup, or the death of a close family member are both examples of family problems.
  • Traumatic accidents or natural disasters.
  • Domestic violence, bullying, or neglect are both examples of domestic violence.
  • Anxiety, depression, sadness, and feeding and toileting problems are all examples of mental illnesses.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

    What is the process of play therapy?

    Between children and adults, there is a communication gap. Children often do not have the language skills that adults do, depending on their age and level of development. They may feel something, but they sometimes are unable to express it to an adult or do not have a trusted adult to whom they can express it.

Adults, on the other hand, can misunderstand or ignore a child’s verbal and nonverbal cues.

Via play, children gain an understanding of the world and their role within it. It’s where they’re able to express their deepest emotions and inner thoughts. If you know what to look for, toys will function as metaphors and take on new meaning.

The therapist accompanies the child in their environment, on their level, because the child cannot properly express themselves in the adult world.

The child can become less guarded and more willing to express their feelings as they play. They are not, however, under any duress. They are free to do so at their own pace and through their preferred mode of communication.

Play therapy can vary depending on the therapist and the child’s specific needs. The therapist will want to start by watching the child play.

Following a comprehensive evaluation, the therapist may establish therapeutic objectives, determine what boundaries might be appropriate, and devise a strategy for moving forward.

Play therapists pay careful attention to how a child reacts when separated from his or her parent, how they play alone, and how they respond when the parent returns.

How a child communicates with various types of toys and how their behaviour changes from session to session will show a lot. They can use play to express their fears and anxieties, as a calming mechanism, or to cure and solve problems.

These findings are used by play therapists to determine the next steps. Since each child is unique, counselling can be customised to their specific needs.

The therapist may invite parents, siblings, or other family members into play therapy at some stage. Filial therapy is the term for this type of treatment. It may aid in the teaching of dispute resolution, the promotion of healing, and the improvement of family dynamics.

Methods of play therapy:

Sessions usually last 30 minutes to an hour and occur once or twice a week. The number of sessions required is determined by the child’s response to this form of therapy. Therapy may be done one-on-one or in classes.

There are two types of play therapy: directive and nondirective. The therapist will take the lead in the directive method by deciding the toys or games that will be included in the session. With a particular aim in mind, the therapist will direct the play.

The nondirective approach is less formal than the directive approach. The child is free to choose whatever toys and games they want. They’re free to play as they want, with few rules or interruptions. The therapist will keep a close eye on things and contribute as needed.

Sessions can take place in a setting where the child feels secure and there are few restrictions. The therapist may employ techniques such as:

  • Visualization that is artistic.
  • Toy phones, puppets, stuffed toys, and masks are used in storytelling role-playing.
  • Action figures, dolls.
  • crafts and arts.
  • Play blocks made of water and sand, as well as building toys.
  • creative movement and dance.
  • a musical performance.

Play therapy examples:

The therapist will either direct the child toward certain types of play or let them choose for themselves, depending on the child and the situation. The therapist will use play therapy in a variety of ways to get to know the child and help them deal with their problems.

The therapist may, for example, give the child a dollhouse and some dolls and ask them to act out some of their problems at home. They may even allow the child to use hand puppets to reenact a traumatic or scary situation.

They will ask your child to tell a “once upon a time” story in order to see what they might uncover. They may even read stories to your child that address a problem similar to his or hers. This type of therapy is called Bibliotherapy.

It may be as easy as asking questions about your child’s thinking process when he or she is drawing or painting. Or, to promote problem-solving, teamwork, and social skills, play a variety of games with the boy.

If you’re a parent or therapist and are interested in using Tandem Kids, contact us hello@tandemkids.app

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