Individual child therapy can take many forms, depending on the mental and emotional needs of a child. One of the less common forms of individual child therapy is called play therapy, which can be a highly effective psychological strategy to help children work through difficult mental and emotional issues.
Because children use playtime to express themselves in a formal setting such as a classroom and an informal setting like a municipal playground, many therapists have incorporated play therapy into their programs. Although play therapy has shown promise with adults and older adolescents, therapists implement its principles primarily for children between the ages of three and 12. For interactive group therapy sessions for adolescents, we offer balance sessions to help teenagers identify and overcome common challenges.
How It Works
A therapist credentialed to conduct play therapy sessions guides children in a safe environment where they feel most comfortable expressing themselves. The play therapist assigned to guide your child learns what types of games and other play activities your child prefers. Then, the play therapist incorporates your child’s favorite games and play activities into a routine that encourages your child to express fears, feelings, and aspirations
Play therapy is designed to target the unique developmental requirements of each child that participates in sessions. Many children do a much better job of expressing themselves when they participate in an activity that they enjoy, whether it is watercolor painting or playing a strategy game such as chess or checkers.
The therapist assigned to conduct play therapy sessions with your child can either implement the nondirective or the directive approach to play therapy. Nondirective play therapy represents a hands-off approach to individual child therapy. Children resolve their issues provided the therapist creates the ideal conditions that encourage reflection. On the other hand, directive play therapy involves much more input from the therapist to foster a resolution of any mental and/or emotional issues that a child faces.
When should a child see a therapist that includes incorporating play into each therapy session? Consulting with one of our experienced child therapists can help you answer that question.
What Are the Benefits of Play Therapy?
Play therapy is especially helpful for young children that have difficulty expressing themselves in a group environment. Young children that have endured emotional and/or physical abuse benefit from play therapy because it removes the pressure to find a resolution to the negative emotional symptoms associated with abuse victims. Children diagnosed with conditions such as autism, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) might experience a decrease in the level of stress that prevents open communication.
Young children that have difficulty expressing themselves verbally can communicate through other channels, such as writing and painting. Play therapy offers a warm, welcoming environment that some children feel is in stark contrast to the environment established for more formal individual child therapy sessions. Above all, play therapy allows children to take control of their mental health by gaining a much better understanding of their emotions.