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Play Therapy is a developmentally sensitive mental health intervention for children. Play is the natural language of children. (5) The use of play enables children to communicate more effectively, both verbally and non-verbally. Play is not only essential for promoting child development but has many therapeutic powers to bring positive change. (6) Play therapy is possibly the longest researched psychotherapy modality for children, which spans over eight decades. Meta-analysis, developments in neurobiology, and individual studies support the principles embraced by play therapists. (7,8) The approach is a way of being with children rather than a way of doing something to or for children. (4,9) By creating a therapeutic relationship, the child has the potential to positively self-direct at their own pace, allowing an increase in self-esteem, self-actualisation and resilience. A play therapist can gain insights into a child’s problems and help the child learn new coping mechanisms to faciliate healing. 

“Play therapy is based upon the fact that play is the child’s natural medium of self-expression. It is an opportunity that is given to the child to ‘play out’ his/her feelings and problems just as, in certain types of adult therapy, an individual ‘talks out’ his/her difficulties.” (10p21)

Why Play Therapy?

Children with low-level play skills have difficulties participating in activities that require social engagement, language, and self-regulation leading to problems at preschool and school. Children have the innate ability to master themselves and solve their own problems when placed in an environment of understanding, acceptance, and safety.

 

Play therapy helps children learn about themselves and their inner world within a therapeutic relationship. Combining toys, play and a therapeutic relationship with a Play Therapist can allow a child to re-work previous trauma, make sense of current difficulties, and progress developmentally.

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Benefits of Play

  • Empowers the child’s capability to self-explore and self-discover resulting in inner emotional growth and belief in self 

  • Relieves anxiety and stress

  • Self-respect and increased self-esteem

  • Take responsibility for certain behaviours

  • Development of coping strategies to aid emotional and physical regulation

  • Resilience development

  • Development of creative problem-solving skills

  • Empathy and respect for others to enhance peer relationships

  • To fully experience and express feelings

  • Development of stronger social skills and family relationships

  • Increased engagement in learning

  • Increased engagement in developmentally appropriate activities of daily living. (5,9)

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