Play is a fundamental part of childhood that teaches us many things by allowing us to explore various toys and games. It’s little wonder that play therapy evolved to help children work through some things that are difficult to face through adult methods, like talking.
Play therapy is a powerful tool that can help children overcome various emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges. As a parent or guardian, you might wonder what are the benefits of play therapy for a child and what makes it such an effective approach?
What Are the Benefits of Play Therapy for a Child?
Play therapy helps children between the ages of three and 12 to resolve psychosocial difficulties they are facing. Using play in the right setting, with a trained therapist, can help children face and work through their struggles in a healthy way.
Therapists work with children on communication and learning to express themselves in healthy ways while gaining insights into their daily life. It is particularly effective for younger children who lack sufficient verbal skills to express their feelings and experiences.
Play therapy typically involves various techniques to reach the child through something they enjoy, including imaginative role-playing, artistic activities, building with blocks, or some form of storytelling. The children can communicate more easily and without the pressure of verbalizing direct thoughts and emotions.
Therapists can observe the child's play and find ways to help them develop social skills, emotional regulation, and creative solutions to life stressors.
Children who participate in play therapy often experience improved self-esteem, increased self-awareness, and better social skills. They also learn to express themselves more effectively and develop a greater sense of control over their lives.
Who Benefits from Play Therapy?
Though play therapy is typically reserved for younger children and preteens, it can help individuals of all ages and backgrounds to face and work through traumatic or stressful issues. Some common uses of play therapy include those who have faced one or more of the following:
Play therapy is most effective for children experiencing emotional and behavioral challenges who lack the capacity to address them via traditional methods.
Benefits of Play Therapy
Play therapy typically helps up to 71 percent of children referred for the treatment. Some of the key benefits include social and emotional growth.
Children gain confidence and learn self-respect as they become more adept at play therapy and communicating with their therapist. The strong relationship between therapist and child can serve as a model for other relationships and ultimately friendships.
As a side benefit, play therapy can support proper language development as well as better fine and gross motor skills.
How Long Does Play Therapy Take?
No play therapy session is the same, but given a child’s attention span, it’s typically held to less than an hour. Sessions typically last 30 to 50 minutes once per week, and many kids attend for around 20 sessions.
Progress depends on the individual child and the issues they need to work through, so it’s important to understand that each child works at a different pace. Children with less severe concerns or those who quickly establish trust with their therapist might experience positive changes faster than those with complex or persistent issues.
Goals of Play Therapy
Therapy goals will differ for every child, and a good therapist creates goals based on the individual’s needs. They will converse with you to determine the desired results and the key roadblocks to overcome.
Some goals for children might involve learning how to respect others and develop healthy friendships. Others might need to work on finding healthy ways to express their emotions, especially after trauma.
Therapists may encourage family members to participate to gain insight into a child’s behavior and find ways to apply some methods at home.
Play therapy can provide a nurturing environment for children to explore their thoughts and feelings in a safe space. With support from a trained therapist, they can develop effective coping skills and learn how to build healthy relationships.
If you think your kid may gain from play therapy, contact our expert team of licensed therapists at Elevate Counseling. We are available to help your child learn how to cope and thrive.