Why Play Therapy?

by | Mar 21, 2024 | Child Counseling

Children are naturally going to play. It is how they are wired. It’s how they make sense of their world. It’s how they experiment, problem solve, interact, socialize, and express their needs. So let’s look at how we take the natural language of children and view it through the therapeutic lens of play therapy.


Children Make Sense of Their World Through Play


Children will use play as a means to express themselves. They will use the toys as their words. Children do not yet possess the cognitive skills to verbalize what is happening internally. So using the toys as their language is very powerful for them. A child will allow me to step into their world and show me what they are working on. They will allow me to see their struggles and how they are trying to make sense of things.


The relationship between the play therapist and the child is very important. Children are constantly seeking attachment from the adults in their life. If you think about how your child tries to engage you, they might say things like “watch me” or “look”. That’s because kids want that secure attachment with an adult. The same thing happens between the play therapist and the child. The play therapist is attuned to the child and is present which allows the child to feel safe, valued, seen, and understood. Children first need to feel physically and emotionally safe in order to play through the things that they need to work through.


Kids Get Better With Play Therapy


The playroom is a special place. As I mentioned, the relationship between the play therapist and the child is a key component. In the playroom, once the relationship is established between the play therapist and the child, the child is free to express themselves in whatever ways they need. You see, children don’t want to stay “stuck”. They want to work towards wholeness and integration. So in the playroom children can work through all of their feelings in the safety of the play room. Children learn that they can freely express their feelings and that none of their feelings are “bad” or “wrong”. In the playroom children can express their needs, their thoughts, their struggles, their feelings, and their challenges. Kids with emotional and behavioral issues practice self-regulating, self-control, operating within boundaries, and problem solving. For kids with self-esteem and anxiety issues, the play therapist interacts with them in ways that guide them to trust their own abilities, and help them develop skills to cope with their feelings. As a result, a child learns they are competent and capable. They learn that they can trust themselves to work through their struggles in a better way. And so the next time a difficult situation comes up, a child feels equipped to respond in more self-enhancing ways.


The specific type of therapy that we provide is child-centered non-directive play therapy. This is a fancy way of saying the therapist does not tell the child what to do or what path they should take to wellbeing. A child centered play therapist operates on the belief that a child already subconsciously knows what they are dealing with. And if they are given the time, the tools, and the opportunity (toys and the playroom), they will work toward healing themselves. And child-centered play therapists believe that children who are bought into their own healing, will have more impactful and long lasting results versus being told what to do to heal.


As a parent, you will work with your child’s play therapist to better understand your child’s behavior. You’ll feel more confident and in control as you learn new ways of responding to your child. You will spend more time enjoying your child. You will feel more like the parent you yearn to be. The play therapy process not only changes kids, it changes families.


If you’d like to find out if play therapy is a good fit for your child, please contact us today for a free parent consultation. We’d love to share all the ways play therapy can help your child.

About the author:

<a href="http://collectivehopecounseling.com/about" target="_blank">Stephanie Rodenberg-Lewis</a>

Stephanie Rodenberg-Lewis

Stephanie is a licensed professional counselor, a registered play therapist, a national certified counselor and a certified school counselor. She has over 17 years of experience working with children as a classroom teacher, school counselor and licensed therapist. She founded Collective Hope Counseling in August 2020 to help serve her community. With her extensive experience in child development, she knew she wanted to work with kids and their families. Stephanie completed additional training in child centered play therapy and became a certified+ play therapy professional in 2024.