One of the biggest successes but also the hardest hurdle in relationships (friendship, romantic, familial) is communication. It can go really well or not so great, even as far as damaging to the relationship.
In therapy we work with children, teens, adults, couples, and families on how to improve communication. This might be accomplished through traditional talk therapy but play therapy techniques can be a huge benefit.
Play therapy techniques are indirect methods to work these challenges and can offer individuals a safe way to explore without feeling on the spot. Plus, play therapy adds in an element of fun which can be a source of relief when dealing with big topics.
Some play therapy techniques that may be used include:
-Creating a cooperative sand tray where communication is needed to coordinate the objects and themes as well as compromise on various aspects.
-Storytelling: one person starts a story and each person builds off of it without saying what should come next.
-Squiggle drawings can promote cooperative storytelling after the drawing is complete. Two people may see the drawing differently, but they can come together by building off of the other person’s statements.
-Block building is a technique of assessing or fine-tuning communication as one person details how to recreate a block building by describing pieces, locations, and angles. This technique also teaches the importance of clarifying questions and understanding that what we see in our head does not easily communicate to others.
These are just a few examples of how play therapy can be used to improve communication while having fun moments. The fun is important as it allows for bonding between individuals and provides levity to what can be a difficult thing to face directly. For children especially, play allows them to work through challenges and feel successful. Play is their language, but everyone could use a lesson!
Michelle A. Culver, LMFT