Play therapy is for kids what talk therapy is for adults. Play therapy is not “just playing with toys.” It is important to me as a clinician that parents have an overall understanding of what we are working on when we are using play therapy, because I have spoken to many parents that have had the experience of taking their child to see a “play therapist” and report with frustration, “all they did was play board games for an hour, for six weeks.” While board games can be an affective tool in therapy, the use of them should be justifiable given the treatment goals and explained to parents. While we do have some games, you will find thousands of toys in our office, all meticulously chosen and sorted into specific categories for specific purposes.
Play is a child’s natural language. We wouldn’t limit the number of words an adult uses when speaking to their therapist; likewise, we don’t limit the amount of toys or the way they are played with in therapy. By utilizing a child’s natural language, we facilitate healing, equip children with resources that empower them to regulate their own emotions, and are able to fill skill, relational, and emotional gaps to increase self-confidence and independence, as well as promote secure attachment. We can accomplish this faster and on a much deeper level by using play therapy than by using traditional talk therapy alone.