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Is Play Therapy Right for My Child?

» Mental Health Library » Treatment Approaches » Play Therapy » Featured Article

By Amy I Rozett, LPC, RPT, NCAC II

Amy I Rozett, LPC, RPT, NCAC II

As a parent, you may be wondering how to get the best help for your child’s emotional and/or behavioral issues. You want what is best for your child. You want to give them every opportunity to succeed in life, to make the pain stop, and the problems go away. You want to get the best possible help, but which treatment option is best for your child?

Play therapy is a method of treatment specifically designed for the unique developmental needs of children and adolescents. Research on brain development has confirmed what parents already knew…that children think, feel and behave differently than adults! Children do not have the same verbal or thinking skills necessary to benefit from traditional “talk therapy,” which relies heavily on an individual’s ability to verbally process emotions, problem solve, confront negative thinking patterns, or gain insight into their problems. This type of treatment works well for adults because we naturally express ourselves through words and verbal/written language. Children, however, naturally communicate through play. Through the process of therapeutic play, children learn to master feelings which were previously overwhelming, leading to increased positive responses and decreased negative and/or acting out behavior. In the play room, or in the sand tray (where children/adolescents use miniature objects to create a “world”), the child is able to feel a sense of control over his/her life, try out new behaviors, and problem solve alternative solutions to real life situations. Self esteem can be greatly enhanced as children learn to control their impulses, express themselves appropriately, and work through painful or traumatic memories.

Play therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment modality for behavior/conduct problems, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. Challenges faced from the effects of bullying, divorce, grief/loss, and military separations are also very appropriately dealt with through play. This type of treatment can be especially helpful for children and teens who have experienced trauma such as sexual/physical abuse or abandonment, as it does not require the child to verbally discuss the details of the traumatic event for healing to occur, as do many other trauma focused therapies. This aspect of play therapy is also very beneficial for those children who have limited verbal skills.

As with any child therapy, parental and/or family involvement is highy recommended, as it significantly increases the probability of a positive outcome.

For more information on Play Therapy, visit the Association for Play Therapy website at www.a4pt.org.

About the Author...

Amy Rozett is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Play Therapist with over 17 years of professional experience working with children, adolescents and families. Her practice is conveniently located off the I 64/264 interchange at Newtown Rd.

Last Update: 1/2/2017



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