Play Therapy and Child Counseling
- Read all child treatment specialties
- Teen counseling / adolescent
- What is play therapy
- Who can play therapy benefit, and what is it effective for?
- What are the qualifications for performing play therapy?
- Why is play therapy a better option compared to normal counseling?
- Additional benefits of play therapy
- Watch a short video on play therapy
Read all child treatment specialties
Please visit the main services and specialties page (click here) to read about all child treatment specialties offered.
Teen counseling / adolescent
Please visit the teen and adolescent page (click here).
What is play therapy?
Play therapy is an evidence-based approach used in the treatment of children. This means that it is not simply random play, but it is specific play that scientific evidence supports as being helpful. A play room is not just a random assortment of toys, but specific toys chosen for a child's therapeutic process. In addition, specific interactions with the child are chosen depending on the situation.
Why is play therapy a better option for younger children than normal counseling?
Children have not yet developed the areas of their brain associated with language and communication that adults use in typical "talk therapy" counseling. Play is the language of children, and through their play they are able to process their problems, such as divorce, loss of a loved one, trauma, anxiety, depression, or other difficult situations.
Because play therapy is at a child's level, it is less invasive and less threatening. Children might not even have the words, thoughts or feelings to verbalize their experiences. When children are at play, the toys become their words, and play becomes their language. Play therapy is typically for children under age 10.
Watch a 1 minute video on play therapy:
Who can play therapy benefit, and what is it effective for?
According to the Association for Play Therapy, "Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters." (source http://www.a4pt.org/ps.playtherapy.cfm?ID=1653).
What are the qualifications for performing play therapy?
Because the techniques used in play therapy are specific, it is important to find someone with the proper training, education, and experience needed to provide play therapy well. The Association for Play Therapy is an international organization which provides a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) credential that recognizes individuals who meet those criteria. I hold a RPT credential as well as a Specialized Certificate in Play Therapy from the UC, San Diego Extension program. See more qualifications.
Additional benefits of play therapy
Many children not only have a specific issue to address, but they also need to learn skills, such as healthy coping skills for when they feel sad or anxious, social skills, learning to sustain attention, and skills for improving behavior problems at school or home. This approach can teach children skills in a fun way.
Watch a short video on play therapy
The Association for Play Therapy has made available the following presentation http://www.a4pt.org/flash/why_play_therapy.html