Play therapy for children

Play and therapy

Play is usually recreational, fun and participative. Using play in learning is a challenging and innovative method to mitigate personal change. Play therapy is a form of counseling or psychotherapy that uses play to communicate with and help people, especially children, and it helps to prevent or resolve psychosocial challenges. Because children cannot express themselves the way we adults can, the use of play is thought to help them towards better social integration, growth and development. Play therapy is employed with children aged 3 through 11 and provides a way for them to express their experiences and feelings in a natural and non-threatening manner which does not intimidate them. As children’s experiences and knowledge are often communicated through play, it becomes an important vehicle that helps them to know and accept themselves as well as those around them.

How It Works: Diagnosing

A play therapist observes a child playing with toys (play-houses, pets, dolls, puppets, etc.) to determine the cause of the disturbed behavior. The objects chosen by the child and the various patterns of play, as well as the willingness to interact with the therapist, can be used to understand the underlying cause for the child’s behavior troubles both with the therapist in the session, as well as outside, in his own surrounding. The issues easily identified include anger, emotional discord, frustration, pent up emotions and interpersonal issues.

How It Works: Treatment

Play therapy can be non-directive or directive depending on the instructions offered to children during the process. Children have a barrage of unresolved conflicts that require them to work toward their own solutions through play, preferably with minimal input from the outside. Although it may not seem too obvious, children are capable of insight and have stepwise moral development albeit it maybe at a different pace in different children. Enabling children to modify behavior through play is an effective strategy to get the best outcome with the children’s and parents intent in complete synchrony.

Non-directive play therapy

This is a self directed modality wherein it is presumed that children who have been emotionally tormented, when offered an opportunity to express themselves in a safe and comfortable atmosphere, usually can resolve their tribulations by their creative thinking and work toward self directing solutions. Non-directive play therapy has few stringent rules and conditions and therefore can be used at any age. The use of toys, human characters, animals, dolls, hand puppets, crayons, cars, water, sand, jellies, blackboards etc. is a common feature of this kind of approach. It is believed (and documented with evidence), that children are better able to express their outlooks toward themselves and their environment through these than by direct articulation. By unrestricted self-expression children can experience a zealous release of their suppressed emotions, gain insight into their sub-conscious thoughts, and test their own percepts about their world’s reality. are more likely to encourage dramatic play and children can easily associate with them, both of which are important in outward illustration of deep seated emotions.

Directive Play Therapy

This process involves more structure and guidance by the therapist while the children work through emotional and behavioral difficulties through what they perceive s simple play. The process incorporates more prompting and direction by the therapist, and this is believed to mitigate a quicker change in the child’s behavior. Therapists may use several techniques to engross the child. Some engage in interactive play with children themselves or when the child is using interactive play models, the therapist suggests novel concepts instead of letting the child direct the conversation. Stories read by directive therapists may constitute a form of Bibliotherapy and this is more likely to have an underlying purpose. Also, sometimes the child is an active component of these stories and the therapist also creates morals and interpretations of stories that children tell. In directive therapy games are generally chosen for the child, and children are given themes and character profiles when engaging in doll or puppet activities. This therapy still leaves room for free expression by the child, but it is more structured, orderly and methodical.

Play techniques

Different application approaches of play therapy include:

  • Puppet therapy
  • Puppet theatre shows
  • Creative sand trays
  • Creation of dioramas
  • Doll house therapy
  • Miniature world creation
  • Paint and art therapy

Emotions elicited

These emotions are elicited and are also treatable through play:

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Sexual abuse
  • Gender confusion
  • Unexpressed anger
  • Relationship troubles
  • Interpersonal disconnect

Frequently Asked Questions

How does puppet therapy work?
Children project their feelings and thoughts onto inanimate ‘persons’ like puppets. They feel safe using a puppet to express themselves owing to a lack of reaction from the puppets. It helps children express their darkest secrets with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of toys are used?
We use a diverse variety of toys of different ages, genders, and traits so that children are able to create an apperceptive image of different characters and objects. Toys can be friendly or frightening; fairy tale characters, animal images, cars, dolls and even predators.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can it be used at home?
Playing along with children helps them to feel connected, secure, and attached to their caregivers. Playful parenting mollifies power struggles between parents and children and helps them build better connect with parents besides being therapeutic.