Can Play Therapy Really Help My Child?

by drlazarus on February 28, 2017

Can Play Therapy Really Help My Child?

If you are a parent of a young child, you know that they play—a lot! In fact, the majority of a child’s day is filled with what some would call “the work of play.” If you have ever observed your child at play, you might realize that not all is fun and games. Children express deep thoughts and work through the challenges of life by playing, re-enacting, and engaging with the world symbolically. For children, play can be just as important as journaling, talking to friends, or trying out new ideas.

Starting Play Therapy

If your young child is showing behavior or emotional problems, you may have decided to seek out a Littleton child behavior psychologist. A specialist in child behavior problems will usually start out by talking with the parents and getting a good history of the child’s experiences and current functioning, and will likely start off a strong, trusting relationship with the child by playing with toys or games. However, many parents wonder when the “real” therapy is going to start. Believe it or not, that therapy is already well on its way!

The Language of Play

Through the language of play, children feel more comfortable expressing emotions, asking for help, and thinking through real-life issues. The best example that most parents have witnessed usually happens after children visit their pediatricians for the first time. Suddenly, the child’s play will reflect a new interest in the medical kit, they may ask visitors to play the patient or the doctor, and unsettling events such as shots or foul-tasting medicine may be represented frequently in the play. This is how the child “discusses” these strange, new events, and the same is true in therapy. When you bring your child to Highlands Ranch for children’s play therapy, you are giving them the chance to “talk” to the therapist through the actions and words of the toys. Just as you trust your child therapist to ask the right questions and provide helpful feedback through words, you can trust that skilled play therapy will produce these same results.

Effectiveness of Play Therapy

By this point, you know what play therapy is—but does it work? Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of play therapy for children under six years old, and some have even found success in using play therapy techniques for children up to twelve in certain circumstances, including children who are developmentally delayed, verbally limited, or extremely disengaged. The Association for Play Therapy has found that play therapy can help children to become more responsible, develop creative problem-solving strategies, increase self-acceptance, learn to recognize and express emotions in a healthy way, and learn new social skills. The best treatments always involve active parent involvement, so make sure to ask your child behavior psychologist in Littleton as many questions as you need to feel comfortable.

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