[Skip to Content]

Children's Play Therapy

What Is Play Therapy?

The Association of Play Therapy (APT) defines play therapy as, "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process, wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties, and achieve optimal growth and development."

Play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all applying the therapeutic benefits of play.  Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems.  Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn -- about themselves and their relationships.  Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, cultivate problem-solving skills, and learn how to relate to others in various ways.  Play provides a safe psychological distance from problems, allowing expressive thoughts and feelings to emerge, appropriate to a child’s overall stage of development.

How Does Play Therapy Work?

Play therapy allows trained mental health practitioners who specialize in play therapy, to assess and understand children's play.  Play therapy is used to help children to cope with emotions, and to find solutions to problems.  By confronting problems in a play-therapy setting, children are encouraged to face their fears, and to find healthier solutions, that allow them to change the way they think, feel, and behave to resolve their concerns.

Who Benefits From Play Therapy?

Play therapy is especially appropriate for children ages 3 to 12 years old.

Play therapy helps children:
• Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies;
• Develop new and creative solutions to problems; • Develop respect and acceptance of self and others;
• Learn to experience and express emotion;
• Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others;
• Learn new social skills and relational skills with family;
• Develop self-efficacy and self-confidence about their abilities.

 - See more at: The Association for Play Therapy (APT) website