What is Play Therapy?
According to the Association for Play Therapy (APT), Play Therapy is defined as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”
Play Therapy was developed to help children between the ages of 3 and 12. Play is a natural form of communication for children especially if they are not sure what it is they are trying to express or make sense of their world. Children go to Play Therapy to heal through their play. Play is a way to resolve any challenges within a safe and contained space, and where they are able to develop healthier ways of behaving.
Typically, a playroom consists of various toys that children can use in order to express themselves safely. A playroom will usually contain a sandbox for play with miniature items (including different professionals, family members, fantasy figures, cars etc.), dollhouse, puppet theatre and puppets (representing professionals, animals etc.), stuffed toys, games, toy ovens etc.
When children are invited into the playroom (after a detailed consultation with the parents), the child will be allowed to play with everything in almost any way that they please as long as no one or the child will come to any harm. The sessions are confidential and after the initial 6 weeks, the parents will get an overview and feedback on progress.
Typically Play Therapy is between 6 and 12 sessions and can go up to 24 lessons. It all depends on the child and the challenges that they are facing-be it ADHD, Socialization, behavior and emotional issues, or having experienced a particular trauma etc.
The symbolic expression of using toys to represent what they are going through can bring about positive change, even if they are playing with the same toys for many sessions. When they stop having the need to play with the same toys, in the same way, it is t this point that the therapy will discontinue. Sometimes there may be more than one issue that they need to resolve.