“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato
It is widely known that children understand and process things much differently than adults. Why expect to treat children in a therapeutic setting with a traditional talk therapy approach, as if they were adults? Children are not ready to process difficulties merely through verbal processing. Children practice and learn the most through playing, and play therapists use that strength to help children overcome adverse situations and everyday difficulties. Many parents are often skeptical of play therapy and sometimes believe therapists are simply playing during sessions and not doing any “real work”.
The goal of a play therapist is to bring understanding and help develop a variety of skills in children through playing. Everything in a playroom is there for the purpose of facilitating understanding. When children are struggling with something, they will enter the playroom and naturally gravitate towards something that provides an outlet to process that struggle. A child whose parents are divorcing may gravitate towards the doll house and recreate scenes of fighting or create two separate households that the child doll travels between. A child struggling with the death of a loved one might use dolls or animal miniatures to act out a family member being with the family and suddenly disappearing. A play therapist’s role is to take confusing, scary, negative experiences and communicate them in a way the child understands, or help the child process in a way that is age appropriate.
For more information about play therapy visit www.a4pt.org