Could Play Therapy Help?
“For children, to ‘play out’ their experiences and feelings is the most natural dynamic and self-healing process in which they can engage”.
Talking therapies can be difficult and restrictive for children when exploring their thoughts and feelings. Children cannot be expected to have the level of vocabulary needed to fully explore their experiences hence it limits the therapy work. A play environment, on the other hand, is developmentally appropriate, comfortable and familiar to children. Therefore this is an optimal ‘space’ for children to express themselves with the support of the play therapist, who is trained to respond to the child through their play to support optimal growth, development and healing.
The child-centered play therapy (CCPT) approach puts the child in the lead and in a position of responsibility – the child takes charge of the play agenda and play is never forced or even suggested to the child. In this sense, the therapist is deliberately permissive so as to give the child the opportunity to express and communicate through their play. At the same time, the therapist is also very active in engaging with the child, gaining their trust and will set limits if necessary such as to ensure safety and respect for each other and for the environment. For more information on the CCPT approach see the ‘links’ page.
Child-centered play therapy can help a child who has experienced a range of difficulties such as:
- Attachment difficulties
- Grief and Loss
- Mental illness in the family
- Abuse (emotional, physical or sexual)
- Family breakdown
- Medical anxiety
- School problems
Symptoms vary and may include:
- Sleeping and eating difficulties
- Aggression or anger
- School difficulties including peer relationships
- Self-esteem and identity difficulties
Play therapy can help a child to develop:
- Emotion regulation
- Interpersonal relationships