Intro to Therapeutic Play
Why play therapy you ask? Many parents have questions at first when I tell them that I utilize a play therapy approach to work with their child. However, when I describe play to parents I want them to understand that the reasoning for play is due to it being the language that children communicate through, not complex adult thoughts where rationality tends to dominate. How so? Well, as children develop they use play to explore their world and express what’s going on in it and how their experience of life has been. For instance if a child is witnessing lots of yelling at home they will most likely bring that into the play setting by reenacting it themselves or projecting the conflict through toys, like action figures or animals. This expression is vital, because 1) it allows the therapist to share with parents the impact that events are having on their child that they may be unaware of, 2) it can help parents implement new strategies and techniques in assisting their child to navigate these difficult areas, 3) they can learn to label their own emotions with help from the therapist, and 4) parents can begin to restructure things to allow the child to be able to manage their emotions and responses. This a very simplified way of describing play, but we can begin to see the importance and impact that play has on our child’s lives and their self-expression.