Plato (429‐347 B.C.) reported observed
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”.
Play therapy is generally used with children aged 3 through to teenagers, it provides a way for them to express their experiences and feelings through a natural, self‐guided, self‐healing process. As children’s experiences and knowledge are often Communicated through play, it becomes an important vehicle for them to know and accept themselves and others.
Play is a natural and spontaneous part of people's lives, especially children. Children learn through play, about their physical surroundings, their own capabilities and limitations, social rules and the difference between fantasy and reality. Play helps children communicate and can show what could be worrying them when it seems to be too complicated for them to verbalise.
Children are brought to play therapy at a stage in their lives when they have exhausted all their own capabilities for solving problems and no longer know what to do. By this time, children may be acting out at home, with friends, and at school.
Play therapy is a technique whereby the child's natural means of expression, namely play, is used as a therapeutic method to assist him/her in coping with emotional stress or trauma.
It has been used effectively with children who are; distraught due to family problems (e.g., parental divorce, sibling rivalry), nail biters, bed wetters, aggressive or cruel, social underdeveloped, or victims of child abuse. It has also been used with special education students whose disability is a source of anxiety or emotional turmoil. Play Therapy sessions are usually held in a playroom that has a range of carefully selected toys and materials.
In special circumstances, Play Therapy sessions can also be offered in other settings such as home and in hospital. In the playroom, the child can express feelings, thoughts, experiences and behaviours through play. Toys are used like words and become the child’s natural language.
Examples of Play Therapy Techniques
Sandtray, sandbox or sandplay therapy is a form of experiential workshop which allows greater exploration of deep emotional issues. Sandplay therapy is suitable for children and adults and allows them to reach a deeper insight into and resolution of a range of issues in their lives such as deep anger, depression, abuse or grief.
Through a safe and supportive process they are able to explore their world using a sandtray and a collection of miniatures. Accessing hidden or previously unexplored areas is often possible using this expressive and creative way of working which does not rely on “talk” therapy.
Children are naturally attracted to clay. Most have grown up with modeling clay at home and school. Children like clay. If children don't have clay they will play with pie dough, mud, pudding, ice cream or mashed potatoes. They like feeling, molding, squishing, rolling and pounding clay. Counselors use clay because it helps children explore and express fundamental emotions. Children are drawn to its visual appeal and hands‐on attraction. Its play‐while‐we‐talk, something‐to take‐home when we are finished approach, is the ultimate intake icebreaker while the depth of its clinical application is limited only by the counselor’s creativity, clinical insight and experience.
Play therapy is an effected non‐evasive tool to assist children with many emotional issues.
This information sheet has been adapted and issued by:
Counselling * Trauma Counselling* Play Therapy
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Telephone: 071 592 9690
Please note that this information must not be used for diagnostic purposes. Please visit a medical professional for a correct diagnosis.