What is Play Therapy?

'Birds fly, fish swim and children play'

Landreth (1991)


Which children can benefit from play therapy?

Play Therapy is a therapeutic approach used with children and young people to help them express themselves, try out new behaviour within a safe environment and to gain a sense of understanding and acceptance of their feelings and past experiences.

A play therapist aims to form a therapeutic relationship with the child which will then enable him/her to gain a sense of trust and safety in exploring their world and their inner selves.  

'Since the child's world is a world of action and activity, play therapy provides the therapist with an opportunity to enter the child's world (Landreth, 1991).' 

Using play materials such as art, sand, role play, music and clay children within play therapy can explore and play out any experiences or difficulties they are experiencing.  The play therapist supports the child to do this, makes them aware of these interests and challenges and is patient in allowing the child/ young person to revisit through play these themes.  By doing so a child will be given the opportunity to explore such challenges at their own pace and in a way that feels non-threatening and most importantly within their own control.    

Playing reduces stress, improves life, and increases creativity.  Who doesn't want that? (Stevanne Auerbach, Dr Troy) 

Play therapy can help children/ young people who:

  • Has nightmares or disturbed sleep

  •  Is at risk of being/ is excluded from school

  • Have parents or siblings with mental health or drug and alcohol difficulties

  • Has suffered trauma

  • Has suffered emotional, physical or sexual abuse

  • Is adopted or fostered

  • Suffers because of seperated/ divorced parents

  • Has suffered a loss or bereavement

  • Is withdrawn or continually unhappy

  • Is ill, disabled or autistic

  • Finds it difficult to make friends

  • Quarrels frequently with peers or siblings

  • Bullies others or is bullied themselves

  • Displays innappropriate behaviour

  • Displays sexualised behaviour