What is Play Therapy?
Play Therapy is a mode of therapy that helps children to explore their feelings, to express themselves and to make sense of their life experiences.
Play is children's natural medium to learn, communicate and to explore their worlds. Recovery from difficult life experiences can be facilitated by a Play Therapist allowing a child freedom of expression in a safe and trusting environment.
Conventional talking therapies may be inappropriate for children and young people who struggle to put their feelings into words. Play Therapy allows children the opportunity to explore and understand these feelings. It can enable them to shift their perspective of abuse or difficulty so that they are less likely to internalise blame. The resulting empowerment and increased self esteem can be the springboard to help the child to cope with difficulties in the real world.
Children of different cultures, genders and abilities can all be helped by Play Therapy.
Who can benefit from Play Therapy?
Play Therapy is an effective intervention for children with a variety of presenting problems (children who have been abused, those who have experienced loss, children who are ill or disabled or children who have witnessed violence). Play Therapy can offer children a space in which the feelings these experiences generate can be expressed and contained. It cannot change what has happened but it can promote resilience within each child to enable him or her to discover a more hopeful view of the world. Play Therapy is appropriate for children of all ages, but is most often used for children aged between three and twelve years. Play Therapists generally work with individual children but many have experience of working with groups and with siblings
What happens in Play Therapy?
At the referral stage the Play Therapist will begin by engaging with others concerned with the welfare of the child and will establish a contract for the work. Good communication is essential if the intervention is to be supported and meaningful.
Consistency is also important so Play Therapy sessions usually take place once a week, at the same time. This may be at the child's home, school or clinic.
Play Therapy offers a confidential space in which personal issues can be safely explored. The Play Therapist helps the child to make sense of their life experiences and to express difficult feelings through the metaphors of play. Play Therapy may be a short term intervention or a process that extends over a longer period, according to each child's needs
To find more details and to find a play therapist, visit the British Association of Therapists website: www.bapt.info