What Is Play Therapy For Children And Will It Help My Child?

The Montgomery Counseling Group in Charlotte, NC  offers Play Therapy as an effective means to assist children in dealing with emotional challenges that won’t respond to the “talk-based” psychotherapy designed for adults.  Through play, children discover the world around them and their feelings about it. Play is also how children communicate their often complex feelings.

Some of the reasons why play therapy is so effective: Children express themselves through the language of play with the use of toys, games, art, sandtray, and other developmentally appropriate means to address the social and emotional concerns that they are experiencing. In the journey of play therapy, children learn to identify and express their feelings, improve their communication skills, hone their self-regulation skills, and expand their problem-solving skills to live happier lives.

Through play, children discover the world around them and their feelings about it. Play is also how children communicate these often-complex feelings. This is what makes effective therapy such a powerful treatment. Pretending offers children the opportunity to “finally” be in charge and express what if feels like to be them.

Here are some more reasons why play therapy is so effective:

Play Reveals the Child’s Emotional Life

Though the characters of the real world and play world may be different, the storylines tend to be the same. A youngster may walk into a therapist’s office, spot the collection of toys, grab a stuffed horse and kitten and make the horse hit the kitten repeatedly, all the while the kitten begs the horse to stop. While some adults might watch and perceive this to be aggressive, a trained therapist recognizes this child is revealing a world of pain; they are living in a home where one adult or caregiver routinely abuses the other.

Feelings can overwhelm children. Add to this their lack of a developed vocabulary to express these feelings and you have a young person with pent-up emotions and nowhere to put them. Play therapy helps children reveal their inner emotional world.

Play Therapy Explores Other Options

Children are instinctual and impulsive. They haven’t yet developed the ability to stop, reason, and determine the best course of action.

Play therapy allows young people to explore different options, behaviors, and ways of feeling and thinking about things. Through play, a child may learn, for example, that aggression isn’t the only reaction, or even the best reaction, to a particular situation they are facing at home or at school. Understanding the area the child needs to work on, the therapist can assume a role or character to guide the dialogue and play toward a beneficial resolution.

Play Therapy Helps Children Feel They Will Be Okay

Children are often sent to therapy because they have been acting out at home or at school. By helping them work through their complex emotions, as well as making them feel heard and respected, play therapy helps children feel safe and okay, which results in being able to consider other ways of behaving and getting their needs met.

Please contact Michelle Wilcox, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate, if you feel play therapy might be right for your child and would like to explore the treatment options. Please be in touch. Michelle will be happy to discuss how she might be able to help your child work through their emotions.