Children Learn to Express Feelings and Solve Problems Through Play
Part of growing up is learning how to overcome challenges.
When children misbehave and act out at home or at school, often difficult life circumstances have exhausted their developing problem-solving skills.
Play therapy benefits children ages 3-12 who may be struggling with family problems, social pressure, stress, preadolescent adjustments, anger management or self-esteem concerns.
In play therapy, children learn to identify issues and to properly respond to challenges in their life with the help of a counselor.
What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy “speaks the language” of children to help them communicate, modify behavior and solve problems. For children, toys are often their words!
A licensed counselor cultivates a safe relationship with the child in which the child is allowed to freely express anything that brings joy or sadness.
Play therapy counselors are all licensed mental health professionals who have earned Master’s or Doctorate degrees and have extensive clinical experience. At Compassion Counseling, we have multiple counselors with vast education and experience in the specialty of play therapy.
The process works best when a parent, family member or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment and supportive of the child’s development.
Why Play Therapy?
An hour of play reveals more than a year of conversation. – Unkown
In recent decades, researchers have discovered evidence that play is as essential as work and love to overall human well-being. Play does for children what exercise does for adults, improving physical and emotional health and even helping to regulate emotions.
Often, the emotions children feel outpace their ability to verbalize or handle them. Play helps them express what is troubling them when words simply can’t.
Through play therapy, children can learn to better adapt to the challenges of life. According to the Association for Play Therapy, the process “builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them (Axline, 1947; Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002).”
How Does Play Therapy Benefit a Child?
Play therapy has been successfully used in the treatment of disorders such as autism spectrum, anxiety, depression, ADHD and physical/learning disabilities. It has helped children process through crisis/trauma, grief and loss, sexual abuse and divorce/separation.
According to the Association for Play Therapy, this kind of treatment helps children:
- Become more responsible for behaviors.
- Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
- Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
- Learn to experience and express emotion.
- Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
- Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
- Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.
What to Expect
In the first session, your licensed counselor will ask questions about the child’s development and history of the presenting problem. This interview will lay the foundation for your child’s treatment plan and strategy.
To gain more information, the therapist may need to observe your child interacting with family or friends in a natural setting. Your child may be asked to complete tasks, games or drawings.
The first stage will focus on getting your child accustomed to the playroom and comfortable with the counselor. As treatment progresses, the child will first grow used to the process and enjoy it, but as further progress is made, your child may experience a negative reaction and revert to old habits. Sometimes the issue has to get worse before it gets better.
Once this reaction is over, your child will truly begin growing and developing healthy ways to deal with emotions and circumstances. As with most types of therapy, though your child may make progress, don’t be surprised at slip-ups or reverting back to old behavior. It takes time for newer, healthier patterns to become ingrained in your child.
After a while, you, your child and your therapist will become confident in the child’s ability to continue to maintain progress and grow without continued play therapy sessions.
Need more information? Unsure if play therapy is right for your child? Call Us at 817-723-1210 for your free 15-minute consultation. Or…