Child-Centered Play Therapy
Children can experience mental health problems just as much as adults, but the best treatment is not the same as traditional talk therapy. Children may experience grief, depression, anxiety or have neurodevelopmental disorders like autism that impact their ability to express themselves. Frustration on a child’s part can quickly lead to behavioral issues. Child’s play therapy is one way for counselors to connect with young patients and help them gain important skills that benefit their emotional and mental health.
What Is Child’s Play Therapy?
Children all have rich inner worlds that are invisible to adults. Through imaginative play, they express their thoughts and feelings in ways that may not ever be spoken. A shy child who struggles to connect with her classmates may reveal that she is socially anxious through the way she makes two dolls interact; a little boy whose tantrums and aggressive outbursts are getting him in trouble at school may reveal that he is actually feeling ignored and upset through the way he builds and demolishes a block tower.
Children’s play therapists know how to guide a child through a series of play-oriented exercises, then interpret what the child’s play style reveals to gain further insight of their mental state. Feelings that children struggle to recognize or express everyday emerge through play therapy – anxiety, helplessness, stress and grief to name a few.
Play therapists can then tailor their own responses to a child’s play and help them confront issues they’re facing in a way that does not feel confrontational or scary. Together, they can begin to develop skills and understanding that give children the confidence and comfort they need to grow.
What Does Play Therapy Help With?
Child’s play helps young clients get in touch with their emotions, express repressed feelings while avoiding trauma, and develop important skills that they may be lacking. Non-verbal children with selective mutism or autism spectrum disorder may become increasingly verbal through play therapy; children who are acting out at home or in school are likely to reveal what’s really going on as they take on another voice through the toys they’re provided.
Benefits of Child’s Play Therapy
Through structured playtime with a licensed counselor, children can develop confidence, express their emotions and help them make sense of their feelings and the world around them. For young children, toys adopt the role of words they do not have, and therapists act as translators.
Child’s play therapy can help treat behavioral problems by providing parents with a greater understanding of the underlying cause. As solutions are provided to both parents and children at appropriate levels, successful results can help bring families closer together and help a child feel accepted, understood and loved.