All you do is Play: Why Play Therapy is more than Play

 In General Counseling, Play Therapy

When storm clouds are looming and the waters of life are getting rough, it is often difficult to know how to navigate the dark and choppy waters. We may feel alone and steering through the waters without a chart to guide us. It is especially challenging when a child is adrift. Finding the right help can be confusing and overwhelming. At Waters Edge, our goal is to provide guidance to help you navigate the murky waters, identify resources you have and obtain the healing that you seek.

The following are some frequently asked questions (FAQ) to help you chart the course.

What is the difference between traditional talk therapy and play therapy?

Play therapy is much more than play. The heart of play therapy lies in the function of play and in the positive relationship that is built between the client and the Play Therapist. Clients learn how to communicate their experiences, express their inner worlds and feel emotional safety. A credentialed Registered Play Therapist (RPT) or Registered Play Therapist Supervisor (RPT-S) has extensive training, supervision and certification to help clients in prevention or management of life’s struggles.  The Association for Play Therapy (APT) describes the Play Therapist’s role as “applying the therapeutic power of play to communicate with and treat clients, particularly children.”

In his book Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship, Garry Landreth writes that “Toys are children’s words and play is their language.”  Spontaneous play is for itself, there is no other goal.  Play therapy, however, has a therapeutic goal.

How does play therapy help?

Play therapy helps clients work through emotions and thoughts that are often too difficult to verbalize. Through play, clients can practice problem solving skills, learn alternative ways of managing problems, use coping strategies and develop ways to manage confusing and mixed up emotions . Clients learn how to address and manage their own problems to utilize healthier solutions.

Play therapy often helps the client and client’s support system gain insight into the feelings and behaviors that are being expressed. The family plays an important role in play therapy. Families and other support people begin to look at things in a different light. Patterns are often identified and strategies to interrupt those patterns are developed with the support of the entire family. Regular communication with families and other support systems is often a vital part of play therapy.

Is Play Therapy just for Children?

Play therapy and play therapy strategies benefit children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. The bottom line is play therapy is for EVERYONE! Expressive arts strategies aid clients in expressing feelings, thoughts and experiences that may be left unspoken. Some of the strategies a play therapist may use with all clients are sandtray, art, music, and movement. Play is the natural way to stimulate the mind, boost creativity and solve problems.

The Registered Play Therapists at Waters Edge are available to help you navigate the waters of life. We hope you will give us a call at 479-621-0301.

For more information on Play Therapy:

Association for Play Therapy

Brown, S. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Landreth, G. (2012). Play therapy: The art of relationship (3rd ed.) New York, NY: Routledge.

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