Play therapy is a technique which uses the healing powers of play to help clients resolve psychosocial challenges and attain positive growth and development. Play therapy was first developed at the turn of the twentieth century. Today it refers to a wide number of treatment methods, which apply the therapeutic benefits of play. Studies have shown that play therapy effectively treats children whose problems are related to life stressors such as school problems, moving, divorce, death, chronic health problems, domestic violence, and physical and sexual abuse.
Play therapy is particularly appropriate for children ages 3 through 12 years of age. It uses the child's natural means of expressions (i.e. play) to help him/her cope with trauma or emotional stress. In play therapy, a safe, caring environment is created which allows the child to play out his/her feelings and develop healthier solutions to problems they face. Play therapy sessions typically last from 30- 50 minutes and are usually held on a weekly basis. The number of sessions required varies with the individual child and the complexity of the presenting problems. Because families are an important part of a child's healing process, the play therapist will communicate regularly with the child's caregivers to develop a plan to treat presenting problems and monitor progress. The therapist may also involve the parents/caregivers during the treatment in what is known as filial play.
Play therapists have extensive education, training, and experience. A play therapist is a licensed (or certified) mental health professional who has earned a master's or doctorate degree and who has received specialized training and supervision in the practice of play therapy. At New Passages, Barbara Turk, Psy.D., Maria Stoner, MS, And Jessica Hart, MA, use play therapy in their treatment of children.
Persons interested in learning more about Play Therapy may visit The Association for Play Therapy website at www.a4pt.org.