What is Play Therapy?

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. A benefit of play therapy is that children can create therapeutic play at their developmental level. The relationship with the therapist allows children a sense of security when recreating emotionally stressful experiences.


* Copyright 1998 Byron or Carol Norton


Why Play Therapy?

Play is the most basic language of all children, regardless of sex or socioeconomic status. While adults experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties can seek help in the form talking therapies, children tend to find this therapeutic setting threatening and almost like an interrogation. As a result, play therapy is used to help children communicate at their own level and at their own pace. This enables them to understand confused feelings and upsetting experiences that they haven't yet had a chance to process.  

Play therapy is a type of therapy that helps children to express themselves, explore their thoughts and feelings, and make sense of their life experiences. Play is a natural activity of learning, exploration and communication for children, and so the medium is considered highly effective for helping children to 'play out' what they may find difficult to put into words.


When facilitated by a trained play therapist in a safe and child-friendly environment, the play becomes focused on the purposes of emotional healing. This leads to a reduction of symptoms (i.e. acting out and aggressive behaviors, withdrawal or regression, etc.) and the reestablishment of balance in the child’s sense of well-being.