Play is a fun, enjoyable activity that elevates our spirits and brightens our outlook on life. It expands self-expression, self-knowledge, self-actualization and self-efficacy. Play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, connects us to people in a positive way, stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulates our emotions, and boosts our ego (Landreth, 2002). In addition, play allows us to practice skills and roles needed for survival. Learning and development are best fostered through play (Russ, 2004).

What is play therapy?

Play therapy is a structured approach that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children. During play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. It provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.

What can play therapy help address?

Play therapy is effective in addressing several mental health concerns, such as:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Depression
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity
  • Autism spectrum
  • Oppositional defiant and conduct disorders,
  • Anger management
  • Crisis and trauma
  • Grief and loss
  • Divorce and family dissolution
  • Academic and social developmental
  • Physical and learning disabilities

How does play therapy help?

  • By allowing a space for children to safely express their emotions, they may:
  • Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
  • 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.