What is Play Therapy?

Play is the child’s language and toys are the child’s words!

Play therapy is different from regular play in that the therapist assists children in addressing and resolving their own problems. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development. Play is a fun, enjoyable activity that elevates our spirits and brightens our outlook on life. It expands self-expression, self-knowledge, self-actualization, and self-efficacy.

Play Therapy helps children to:

  • Develop better impulse control.
  • Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
  • Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
  • Learn to experience and express emotion.
  • Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
  • Learn new social skills.  


  • Works with ages 3-10, and adapted to work with preadolescents.
  • Some sample issues that play therapy can address includes social, emotional, and behavioral concerns related to life stressors such as adoption, attachment disruption, divorce, death, relocation, life transitions, hospitalization, chronic illness, physical and sexual abuse, bullying, domestic violence, natural disasters, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, ADHD, along with many other issues.
  • Techniques used: puppets, expressive arts, aggressive release toys, sand tray, bibliotherapy, dollhouse, mask making, etc.
  • For more information, visit the Association for Play Therapy at http://www.a4pt.org/