"Birds Fly, Fish Swim, and Children Play."   Dr. Garry Landreth

 What is Play Therapy?

Play therapy is to children what talk therapy is to adults. Even if a child is intelligent in other ways, they still may not know the words to use to share how they are feeling. Children do not have the ability to think and reason completely in abstract ways as adults do. Because of this, they are unable to express all of their thoughts and feelings verbally. This makes traditional "talk therapies" inappropriate for meeting their needs. With children, play is a natural way to express themselves.


In play therapy, children are encouraged to play as they wish with a trained play therapist. A variety of toys are made available to encourage the expression of emotional concerns. Children are given the opportunity to express themselves through a variety of styles, including art therapy, sand play, dramatic play, and fantasy play. Play therapy becomes therapeutic to children as they begin to give expression to their experiences and emotions. Children can recreate, in play, the experiences that are part of their anger, fears, sadness, or frustrations currently influencing their behavior. Children are fluent in the language of play, and play therapists have special training that enables them to understand the child's play language.

Who Benefits From Play Therapy?

While play therapy is typically used for children about the ages of 2-12, many play therapy interventions are also appropriate and beneficial for older children, adolescents, and even adults. Play therapy may also include some talk therapy, depending on the age, needs, and comfort level of the child.

Many children who are entering therapy will benefit from some form of play therapy. However, play therapy is not for every child. Sometimes a child is extremely resistant, refuses to participate, or their ways of coping are so rigidly held that it is not possible for them to learn more adaptive coping skills. If this occurs, your child's therapist may discuss alternative types of treatment that might be more helpful.

What is a Registered Play Therapist?

A Registered Play Therapist (RPT) is a specially trained licensed health care provider who has met all requirements as dictated by the Association for Play Therapy (APT). Play therapists have received extensive training and supervision in order to understand and guide the child’s play during therapy sessions.

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