What is Play?
Play is a broad term to define many types of activities children and people engage in. Types of play can include social play, imaginative play, rough and tumble play, gross motor play, exploratory play… the list goes on. Play is spontaneous, encourages connection, is a great learning tool and a great way to be social.
Why is Play Important?
Play is essential for development. Through play children can develop:
• Social skills such as sharing and turn taking
• Fine motor skills such as manipulation
• Gross motor skills such as muscle strength
• Cognitive skills such as problem solving
• Emotional skills such as self-regulation
What is Play Therapy?
Play Therapy is a special form of counselling for children.
It involves the development and facilitation of a safe relationship, between a child and an appropriately trained therapist, who provides a safe space for the child’s self-expression and exploration.
The space is characterised by carefully selected play materials and a non-judgemental stance from the adult, which invites children to explore and make sense of feelings, thoughts, experiences and behaviours.
Play Therapy utilises developmentally appropriate play as children’s language and the toys as their words, which supports them to organise, make sense of and communicate their world and experiences
How does Play Therapy work?
Play Therapy provides a uniquely designed space with carefully selected toys that offer a sense of safety and predictability.
A safe, secure and therapeutic relationship is developed in which the adult trusts the child to direct their own process and work on issues that are important to them.
Children will see the therapist once a week for up to 45 minutes. Sessions will take place in the same room, with the same therapist, on the same day and at the same time. This helps provide the children with the safety and predictability that is key in Play Therapy work.
How can Play Therapy help?
Play Therapy allows children to explore and make sense of emotions. This exploration supports children to make sense of difficulties which can lead to them coping better, in the real world.
In Play Therapy children can learn:
- To respect themselves
- Self-control and self-direction
- To assume responsibility for themselves
- Their feelings are acceptable
- To express feelings responsibly
- To be creative and resourceful in facing problems
- To accept themselves
- To make choices and be responsible for them
Play Therapy Services Offered
Humanistic Play Therapy
A non-directive form of therapeutic intervention for children, characterised by providing a safe space with carefully selected play materials and the development of a safe relationship. A non-judgemental stance is utilised which invites the child to explore and make sense of their feelings, thoughts, experiences and behaviours in almost any way they choose. Children can direct their own process and work on issues that are important for them, therefore allowing for self-expression and exploration. This supports them to cope better with difficulties in the real world.
Provides therapy to children using parents as the agents of change. It involves the parent/carer and child engaging in special play sessions together each week.
The therapist trains, supervises and supports parents in developing four specific skills to use with their children:
• Limit setting
• Empathetic listening
• Imaginative play
All information regarding Play Therapy has been gathered and adapted from the following books:
Bratton, S. & Ray, D. (2002). Humanistic play therapy. In D. Cain (Ed.) Humanistic psychotherapies: Handbook of research and practice. USA: American Psychological Association.
Guerney. L., & Ryan. V. (2013). Group Filial Therapy: The complete guide to teaching parents to play therapeutically with their children. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Landreth, G. (2012). Play therapy: The art of the relationship. (3rd ed). New York, Routledge.
Schaefer, C. (ed). (2011). Foundations of Play Therapy. (2nd ed). New Jersey, John Wiley and Sons.
VanFleet, R. (2005). Filial Therapy: Strengthening parent-child relationships through play. Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press.
VanFleet, R. (2012). A parent’s handbook of Filial Therapy: Building strong families with play. Boiling Springs, PA: Play Therapy Press.