The Therapeutic Powers of Play Therapy
As parents and caregivers, it can be difficult to watch a child struggle with big emotions. We want to support them in any way we can, but sometimes it can be hard to know how. One approach that has been shown to be effective is play therapy.
I’m Brittany McBryde Willams, a child therapist at Silver River Counseling, and in this article, I’m going to walk you through the essential parts of play therapy and how it helps children.
1. Why Is Play Important?
Play is a crucial component of a child’s development. It is not just about having fun but also about learning and growing.
When children engage in different types of play, they develop and enhance a range of skills.
That can include:
- Social skills
- Problem-solving abilities
- Physical coordination
These skills are essential in helping children navigate and succeed in the world around them.
Through play, children can explore their environment, learn about different objects, and develop their cognitive abilities. They can also practice different scenarios and situations, helping them develop their problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Play also encourages creativity and imagination, allowing children to come up with new ideas and ways of looking at the world.
An example of this is a child playing with blocks, which allows them to learn about shapes, sizes, and spatial relationships. As they build towers and structures, they are also developing their problem-solving skills by figuring out how to balance the blocks and construct stable structures.
At the same time, they are using their imagination to create new and exciting buildings, fostering their creativity and curiosity.
Moreover, through play, children learn how to communicate, share, and collaborate with others. These social skills are crucial in helping children build relationships and form connections with others.
Overall, play is an essential part of a child’s development because it helps them make sense about their world.
2. Why Should Parents Choose Play Therapy For Their Child?
It’s important to note that play therapy is not just about having fun. It’s a form of child-led counseling for children who are experiencing social, emotional, or behavioral difficulties.
Where adults are able to talk and express themselves, children often lack the vocabulary to express their frustrations or feelings. BUT, they do know how to express themselves and show how they are feeling through play.
Play therapists are specially trained to use play and other creative methods to help children work through their emotional difficulties, and they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to support children and families through the therapeutic process.
Through play therapy, children are encouraged to engage in different types of play, such as drawing, painting, storytelling, and role-playing, which can help them process difficult emotions and experiences.
Regardless of the method used, play therapists use these activities to help children develop healthy coping mechanisms, improve emotional regulation, and build self-esteem and confidence while also gaining insight about themselves and their own experiences in a safe and healing environment.
3. Why Are Play Therapists Important?
Not all child therapists are play therapists so you’ll want to be sure to look at your therapist’s qualifications for using this approach with your child. Play therapists are highly trained professionals who specialize in using play as a therapeutic tool to help children overcome emotional, behavioral, or developmental issues.
Play therapists often work with parents or caregivers to help them better understand their child’s emotional needs and provide them with the tools and strategies they need to support their child’s development.
By strengthening family relationships, play therapy can help children feel more connected and supported, which can have a positive impact on their overall well-being.