When children require support for emotional or behavioral problems, working with a therapist can be helpful. Therapists can help children to resolve emotional problems, develop coping skills, and express their feelings. While most people probably imagine traditional talk therapy methods, in which a therapist and client sit in an office and have a conversation, there are other methods of therapy.
Children in particular, are likely to benefit from alternative therapeutic methods, because sitting and having a conversation may not meet their needs. Hands-on forms of self-expression are often more suitable for children. Play therapy, which is one of the alternative methods for children, is described in more detail below.
The Basics of Play Therapy
Children may not be able to use words to describe their thoughts or feelings, but they can express themselves through play. After all, play is a central part of childhood. Play therapy uses various methods of play to help children express themselves and understand their feelings.
Play therapy occurs with the guidance of a play therapist, who can help children through the process. Some play therapists use a directive approach, instructing children to perform specific tasks during play. Others are more non-directive, allowing children to guide the process of play.
Regardless of the specific strategies utilized in play therapy, this modality allows children to express their feelings and learn ways of coping.
How Play Therapy Works
Play therapy typically occurs in a therapeutic playroom. This is a safe space where children are free to express themselves through play. Such a room is typically well-stocked with a variety of toys. Some items found in a playroom can include dolls, blocks, and figurines.
Play therapy sessions typically occur once a week for 30 to 45 minutes. A therapist works with a child in the playroom to help them learn social skills, improve their communication, and solve problems.
There are several different play therapy modalities, including drawing, playing with blocks, using sand trays, and playing with dolls. Some therapists may even use sensory play, music, or storytelling during the play therapy process. While these various modalities may all look different, what they have in common is that they help children to express themselves using play.
Is Play Therapy effective?
If you’re considering play therapy, you probably want some reassurance that this method works. Fortunately, researchers have extensively studied the play therapy modality, and the body of research shows that it is effective. Play therapy has also been identified as a culturally responsive treatment method, as it is especially effective for African-American, Latino/Hispanic, and Asian populations.
In addition, play therapy has been found to be effective for addressing a range of childhood mental health problems. These include relationship problems with caretakers, behavioral problems, and low self-esteem. So, while play therapy may not work for everyone, there is evidence that it is helpful for many children.
New Jersey Play Therapy Services
Bridge to Balance is happy to provide play therapy services in the New Jersey area. We offer services for individuals, and we also run a sandtray therapy group for children. We have office locations in Hamilton, Voorhees, and Piscataway, and we serve both children and adults. Visit our webpage today to schedule an appointment.