Play therapy

What is Play Therapy?

(Adapted from: Landreth, G. (2012) Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship). 

Play is the natural language of children.

The therapeutic relationship formed through  play therapy allows children to develop mastery and emotional regulation. Play therapy helps children make sense of their feelings.

Carefully selected toys are offered in play therapy.   Toys are the child’s words and play is the child’s language.

Play therapists are specially trained child therapists who understand the language of children’s play. When children communicate or play out how they feel to someone who understands, they feel better.

In play therapy, children learn:

  • To respect themselves
  • Their feelings are acceptable
  • To express their feelings responsibly
  • To assume responsibility for themselves
  • To be resourceful and creative in solving problems
  • Self-control and self-direction
  • To accept themselves
  • To make choices and be responsible
  • To gain mastery over difficult experiences
  • To feel better

Why Play Therapy?

Play is essential to human growth, development, learning, and cultivating relationships.

Play therapy is sensitive to the developmental needs of children, as their brains have not yet developed and formed cognitive thinking skills like adults.


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The Language of Play Therapy

The Language of Play Therapy

Children naturally use play as a compelling form of communication. This is where Play Therapy can help!.

While providing access to a very powerful language, Play therapy provides a way of being with the child and honors their unique developmental level.  It also looks for ways of connecting to the child and helping them using the “language of play”.  Play therapists are trained to be able to recognize and understand children using play.

Billie-Jo uses play to help her young clients, most often children ages three to twelve years, to better express themselves and works with them to allow the child to resolve their difficulties.

First of all, a safe relationship must be created between the therapist and client because Play allows the client to freely and naturally express both what pleases and bothers them.

Children often don’t have the verbalization skills to articulate their worries and upsets. Children have immature defense strategies which prevents them from facing their yucky feelings and upsets directly. For a young child who experienced a traumatic event before their language skills were developed,  the event would be encoded somatically inside their body, without words to describe it. A great video called “Introducing Andrew” provides an overview of the concept.

The Power of Play!

Play is used as a primary intervention and also a supportive therapy because of its proven effectiveness.

Play Therapy

The Power of Play Therapy!

Play Therapy is helpful for children struggling with the following issues…

* Anger management
* Grief and loss
* Divorce, Separation and Abandonment
* Crisis and Trauma
* Anxiety
* Depression
* Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD)
* Academic and social developmental
* Physical and learning disabilities
* Conduct disorders
* Abuse and Neglect
* Self esteem
* Emotional dysregulation

This therapy is a research proven, effective mental health approach. Regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem. It works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.


Got questions about play therapy?  Ask Billie-Jo using our contact form.