Play therapy is a theoretically based treatment approach for children 3-12 years of age that uses a child’s natural tendency to “play out” their reactions to life situations. Toys in a play therapy room include games, puppets, art supplies, and sand trays. All toys are carefully selected to facilitate creative and emotional expression from children.
In play therapy children learn how to identify and recognize their feelings. It improves their self-concept, reduces anxiety and initiates behavioral changes. By making appropriate choices in the play room children find solutions to problems and learn self control which leads to taking responsibility for their actions.
Play therapy is facilitated by a play therapist that provides an environment where a child feels safe to play out his or her concerns. As a result, the therapist can assess the child’s play and make recommendations to parents concerning plans for resolving problems.
Children who are dealing with death, divorce, abandonment, or abuse can benefit from play therapy Children who are experiencing difficulty adjusting to moving, starting school, the birth of a sibling or a chronic illness can find emotional support in play therapy. Play therapy can also help children who are experiencing problems related to anxiety, ADHD, autism, attachment disorders, and learning disabilities.
With advanced play therapy training, experience and supervision, a mental health professional can earn the Registered Play Therapist or Registered Play Therapist Credential conferred by the Association for Play Therapy (APT). APT is a national non-profit professional society that provides research, training and credentialing programs to assist and enhance the expertise of mental health professionals. Additional information is available at www.a4pt.org