Children have great imaginations, and they use it in every aspect of their lives. Play is a huge part of children’s lives and they create imaginary scenarios with their toys all the time. If something is going on in a child’s life, one of the best ways to discover their true emotions is by watching them play.
Play therapy is a psychotherapeutic treatment, specially developed to help children between the ages of 3 to 12. A play therapist works with the child to explore and resolve their issues through the therapeutic use of play.
A safe space called a playroom is created. This allows the child to play with specially chosen toys, encourages them to express their feelings and helps them develop healthier behaviors. A a variety of techniques such as drama, storytelling, sandplay, painting, drawing and creative visualisation can be used.
Who can benefit from play therapy?
– Children who are constantly aggressive and willfully disobedient.
– Children who are ill or grieving
– Children who have depression, anxiety or attachment problems
– Children who are involved with fostering or adoption
– Children with conditions like autism and speech problems
Here are some ways play therapy helps children:
1. It helps them heal from past traumatic experiences- When children go through traumatic events, the negative experiences can create emotional and behavioral problems. Play therapy helps them make sense of the traumatic experience, by using their imagination to express themselves through toys. For example, a child who has witnessed domestic violence may make his toys fight each other. Play helps the child unpack emotions, understand the experience better and heal.
2. It enhances creative thoughts and ideas- During play, children use their imagination and creative skills to learn through play. During play therapy, children get to create different scenarios with different endings. This gives them a better understanding of what’s happening in their lives, and helps them cope.
3. It helps them deal with difficult emotions and situations- Play therapy involves activities that helps the therapist discover how the child deals with difficult emotions and situations and help the children address these difficulties. For example, a child may feel like they caused their parent’s divorce by being naughty. The therapist can help correct this wrong belief and help to eliminate feelings of guilt by encouraging positive thoughts.
4. It gives the child emotional support and helps them communicate their problems and concerns with others- In play therapy, children learn to work through difficult feelings and memories that they may not know how to put in words by expressing themselves symbolically with the use of toys. This helps the adults in their lives understand what children need in order to provide the right type of help and support.
Play therapy is quite beneficial to children, and kids who go through play therapy show great
improvement and display a higher level of confidence. Working through difficult feelings through play can be deeply restorative for children.
If you would like your child to see a play therapist, please contact me to book a session.
Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families