What is Play Therapy?
The biggest misunderstanding about Play Therapy is that children go into a room full of toys and that the therapist spends an hour “just playing” with them. In reality, the “room full of toys” is a Play Room in which the games and toys have been carefully selected by a trained professional to provide the child with a variety of ways to express his emotions.
One of the leading figures in Play Therapy, Dr. Gary Landreth, describes play as the language of children and toys as the words they use to narrate the meaningful events of their lives. Just like adults benefit from orally telling a therapist about traumatic events (and might need to repeat that story over and over again until they are ready to move on) children will use the toys in the room to tell their story. With the therapist acceptance, guidance and reflections the child will resolve his or her internal conflict, heal and be able to move on.
Although most therapists that see children incorporate some sort of play or games into their treatment (to engage their little clients) not every therapist has the training and supervised experience to call themselves a Registered Play Therapist (RPT).
An RPT is a Licensed Mental Health Professional (counselor, therapist, psychologist or other) who has proven to the Association of Play Therapy that he or she has gone beyond the licensing requirements and obtained at minimum of extra 150 hours of specific Play Therapy training and 500 hours of supervised Play Therapy experience.
There are different “styles” of play therapy; in some of them the therapist will select specific toys and games to guide the child through his or her healing process. On another play therapy style the therapist will allow the child to choose the toys he or she needs to express his or her needs and through unconditional acceptance and reflection allows for emotional growth to occur.
I would be happy to share more about play therapy with you and explain specifically how I think it can help your child.