How Does Play Therapy Work?

Category: Play Therapy

Play is the child’s language, and it is through play that children learn to understand the world around them and their place in it.  When a child plays, they can express their inner feelings, their problems and desires.  A play therapist will join the child in their world and communicate through the play.  As the child learns to trust the therapist, they may get more creative in their play and be more willing to share their feelings.

What is play therapy? 

Play therapy is a form of therapy primarily used for children.  Children often cannot process their own feelings or clearly articulate their issues to their parents or other adults.  It is far easier for children to express themselves through play activities than through verbal communication.  Play therapy can help children to express themselves, cope with stress, solve problems, enhance their self-esteem and improve relationships.  Play therapists use various media such as puppets, expressive arts, storytelling, sand play, and board games. Play therapists are trained to assess and understand the child’s play.

Why are children referred to play therapy? 

Children are referred to play therapy to resolve their problems and seek support for depression, anxiety, grief and loss, issues at school, trauma and life transitions.  Kids and parents have often done everything they can to address the issue(s) on their own and find they eventually need support from a trained professional. 

How does play therapy work? 

Most children cannot express themselves like adults can.  This can make communication between kids and adults challenging.  Most children, especially younger children, simply do not have the language skills of adults.  They may feel something but often cannot articulate their thoughts and emotions.  Due to this communication gap, it can be easy for parents to misunderstand their child’s attempts at communicating their needs.

Play is cathartic for the child and gives the child the opportunity to express what they are going through.  A play therapist can assist the child in decision-making and problem-solving skills, learning social skills, understanding their emotions and problems and can help to improve confidence through self-expression.

If you feel like your child could benefit from play therapy, please call us at (925) 820-8447. 

Christine Holmberg, LMFT