Parenting

Could Your Child Benefit From Seeing a Play Therapist?

As parents, we want to find the best ways to help our children face and overcome any unique challenges they may have. Sometimes, parenting means using play therapy that can help children work through those problems. According to Healthline, more than 70% of children referred to play therapy can experience a positive change in their lives. Here are some points to consider when considering play therapy for your child.

Defining Play Therapy

Play therapy uses play or playful creativity to help a child express feelings or relieve stress. Play therapy can consist of asking a child to act out an upsetting event, such as a parent’s divorce, a relative’s death, or an act of abuse by using doll families or toy houses. Therapists know that for children, play may feel like fun, but it’s a child’s version of work. Children ages three through 12 can learn to absorb new information by experiencing joy and meaning through social interaction.

Applications

Some of the problems that have successfully been addressed by play therapy include ADHD, depression, anxiety, and physical disabilities. Children who have acquired behavioral problems as a reaction to divorce, family death, or other trauma can express their frustrations through play modalities. Educational therapists who work with autistic children or those with learning disabilities have learned these principles and provide an ideal mental canvas for kids to create their works of expressive art.

Implementing

Play therapists use several types of play experiences to help the children they care for. Examples include puppets, art supplies, costumes, and dolls, which allow children to express their feelings through acts of creation. Children who express anger may be assisted to exorcise it with a punching bag, using foam bats, or with video game guns that “shoot” people who have hurt them. During therapy sessions, therapists can let the children feel “seen” by acknowledging what they notice in the child’s behavior and words.

Using Senses

One of the best tools used by play therapists is to exercise a child’s senses. When therapists empower the children to drive the session by giving them freedom of expression, they often do so with art projects. This choice usually proves popular with participants. After all, according to research conducted by the National Council for Biotechnology Information, 60% say they would enjoy participating in art therapy groups.

Coaching Movements

Physical movement is always a good tool for expressing emotion, and play therapy frequently uses team games. By using games that require team strategy, like Capture the Flag or Scavenger Hunt, the therapist can reframe the child’s thinking and hone their social skills. Individual activities that require physical activities, like gymnastics, will help children feel accomplishment and increase endorphins, which deliver a natural sensation that is much like pleasure.

Guiding Development

Children with developmental delays are often challenged by depression and anxiety. According to UNICEF, over 200 million children under the age of five are currently identified as being developmentally delayed. Working with special education experts and a psychologist, a play therapist can help those children find ways to accept their present levels of capability and live their best lives.

Children who have fun while working out their challenges may seem like their activities are only about the fun, but play therapists can make the fun count. Play therapy offers children the chance to express their feelings in ways that come naturally to them. If you think play therapy may benefit your child, talk to your physician about a referral to a play therapist.