Definition of Play Therapy by the Association for Play Therapy (APT)
Play Therapy is defined by APT as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."
Play Therapy isn’t Just Play
Play Therapy is not the same as regular, everyday play. While spontaneous play is a natural and essential part of the developmental process, Play Therapy is a systematic and therapeutic approach. Play Therapists have earned a graduate mental health degree and are licensed mental health professionals with extensive training, supervision, and education in Play Therapy. Play Therapy incorporates a growing number of evidence-based practices and techniques (SAMHSA, 2014), and should only be utilized by specially trained mental health professionals.
I primarily utilize play therapy as a Play Therapist in training and under supervision from Dr. Amy Frew, PhD, LMFT, RPT, RPT-S. Play is the language for children and mostly toys, or other objects helps young children to express what is troubling them as their words when they do not have verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings.
Play therapy also helps the therapist to assess their level of cognitive, emotional and behavioral development stage. I use specific language and play techniques to help children build frustration tolerance, increase attention span and develop impulse control. Many children who are struggling with sensory issues are able to learn coping strategies through play therapy techniques, including TheraPlay and Child Centered Play Therapy (CCPT). It also helps them to communicate, problem solve, develop confidence and meet their unrealized potential.
Play therapy can be used to address issues of anxiety, depression, anger grief and loss, divorce, crisis or trauma, physical abuse, domestic violence, etc.