What is Play Therapy?

Therapeutic play (including play therapy) is a well-established discipline based on a number of psychological theories. Research, both qualitative and quantitative, shows play therapy to be highly effective in many different treatment situations. Recent research by the UK Society for Play and Creative Arts Therapies (PTUK) suggests that as many as 71 percent of children that participate in play therapy show a positive change. The first recorded use of therapeutic play date back to 1919. Probably the most important contributions to the modern practice come from the work of Virginia Axline and Violet Oaklander. There are two major approaches to this therapy; non-directive play therapy and directive play therapy. A skilled practitioner will adopt a mix of both approaches, according the circumstances and needs of each individual client.

How does Therapeutic Play Work?

A safe, confidential, and caring environment is created, which allows the child to play with as few limits as possible. Limits are restricted to those that must be implemented for the physical and emotional safety of the child. This environment allows healing to occur on many levels following our natural inner trend toward health. Play and creativity operate on impulses in the unconscious that reveal underlying issues. No medication is used during this therapy.

Sessions typically last 30-45 minutes and center on the child receiving “special time” to play in groups or individually. Some of the techniques, known as the “play therapy toolkit,” might include:

  • Creative visualization
  • Therapeutic story telling
  • Art – drawing
  • Music and dance

Tools are chosen based on the child’s wishes and the skills of the therapist. During the session the therapist observes the child’s play and may communicate some of those observations back to the child, if appropriate. The child is also given strategies to cope with difficulties they may be facing in life that they themselves cannot change. This therapy offers them a more positive view of their lives both now and in the future.

Play therapy is an effective therapy technique for children facing a myriad of circumstances and issues. Our staff at kp counseling is trained in this counseling technique and may use the therapy as a part of a comprehensive treatment program, depending on the specific needs and issues of the individual child. To learn more, contact kp counseling at 779-368-0060.

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