Play is a child's natural medium of self-expression and exploration. It is essential for children to develop physically, emotionally and socially. Play therapy gives a child a space to express what is going on for them, using play, rather than relying on language, which is an adult's most natural medium of expression.
Play Therapy is an effective form of therapy for children and young adults with a wide range of emotional and behavioural difficulties including anxiety, aggression, depressive thoughts and issues relating to difficult life experiences such as abuse, loss, family breakdown and trauma. It is particularly effective for children with communication difficulties, a disability or a diagnosis of autism, ADHD.
For older children and young adults, a mix of talk therapy and play are used, led by the wishes of the individual young person.
Using a variety of play and creative arts techniques Play Therapy helps children develop confidence and self-esteem, healthier ways of communicating and positive coping mechanisms. As the child in Play Therapy is helped to gain control over difficult feelings, memories and reactions, and learns to deal with them more effectively within the playroom, they transfer these newly developed skills to their everyday life.
By providing a free atmosphere within safe boundaries the therapist allows the client complete freedom to explore at their own pace issues from the past or present, conscious or unconscious that are affecting their lives and functioning in the here and now.
The use of unconstructed materials such as sand and water, paint, clay as well as miniature figures of people, animals, trees, mythical creatures, is important to allow the imagination free rein. Making a world in the sand, for instance, gives a child the opportunity of making sense of his or her experience and gaining some control over his or her world.
Play therapy enables the client to access inner resource and resilience and through the therapeutic alliance allows growth and change to happen.