Through self-directed play, children are able to choose what toys (or “words”) best reflect their internal experience. Allowing children to choose what materials to use in the playroom also conveys the message that their needs matter, that they are capable of making healthy choices, and that they can trust their own abilities. It is the goal of the play therapist to help the child feel understood, accepted, valued, and safe. It is through the safety of the therapeutic relationship that the child is then able to create positive change by developing new beliefs, trying new behaviors, and accepting new emotions.
Play therapy can benefit children and families in a number of ways, including increasing emotional awareness, improving self-control, boosting self-confidence, and enhancing decision-making skills. Research has found play therapy to benefit children presenting with various issues including adjusting to family change, grief & loss, post-traumatic symptoms, oppositional & defiant behaviors, social difficulties, and neuro-developmental disorders. Through this relational, developmentally-informed treatment approach your child can process past events, find ways to cope with current challenges, and develop the resources needed for future success.
Landreth, G. (2012). Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship. New York, NY: Routledge.