How does Play Therapy help Children’s behavior?

When adults are faced with big issues in life they are able to speak with others and share our problems with one another as a way of working through trauma and other life stressors. With children, particular younger children that are faced with life changing issues, it is extremely difficult for them to verbalize what they are feeling. Therefore, Play Therapy addresses these issues head one using what children do best- Play. Using Play Therapy as a catalyst to identify children’s emotional needs is very effective.
Play therapy is a form of psychotherapy is a form of Therapy used mostly for children, although effective in all ages groups, it addresses the mental and emotional issues by using the medium of play. Using play as the method of sharing ones feelings with parents or therapist these issues can be addressed head on, and the healing can begin.
In everyday situations even adults can find it somewhat challenging to address their needs and what makes them feel anxious or angry or various other emotions. These challenges are much bigger for younger children who have a harder time processing their world through talk, whereas with play, children have a much easier time correlating play by acting out life experiences and their world. Children can create barriers or safe distances from negative feelings and emotions using play. By addressing what is best for the children, and addressing their needs without judgement and or criticism or being asked to changes ones behavior. Play creates a sense of control for the children and empowers them to heal at on their own time and at their own speed.
A Play Therapist may use other forms of Therapy in addition to Play Therapy. Art Therapy is a method that grants control to the child and allows them to create and play so that the therapist may be able to assist in solutions for the child.
In traditional settings for adults in Therapy the setting can be quite intimidating for the child in that if a Therapist were to sit in front of the a child and have them talk about his or her feelings while the Therapist writes down things as they speak, this could be anxiety producing for the child involved and as a result the child may not be see talk Therapy as effective. Whereas, Play Therapy creates a space that the child feels comfortable in a room that has different types of toys and games that can make the child feel comfortable in.
Using SandTray Miniatures or or dolls or dollhouses that represent family members or other circle of influences in the child’s life, these toys serve as a way for the child to act out their world using these props to support their world as they see and offer the Therapist a peek into that world being created through play.
By allowing the child to dictate the pace of the sessions by setting boundaries versus the Therapist setting rigid boundaries that can prove stiffing to the children.
When a child is asked to pick specific toys, the Therapist can then make assessments based upon those selections. A child acting out aggression type behaviors may pick up a nerf gun and shoot a dinosaur or other object to display their frustration in their world. A child who is experiencing trauma through a family conflict may use art or dolls and might portray a happy family within the contexts of play.
The child is then observed by the Therapist and then the findings are discussed with the parents or guardian, or caretaker. Sometimes group therapy is an option that a Therapist may incite for reasons that may allow children to play within groups and interact with each other during these sessions and the Therapist then notes certain behaviors while they are playing in the group.
Distance is always a consideration for the Therapist to allow the child to have self directed play within the playspace and to allow the child to create and play uninterrupted and self directed as much as possible while the Therapist may follow certain guidelines during the process, it is still vital that the child work on his or her own accord most of the time and develop a sense of control throughout the session.

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