Play has been recognized as important since the time of Plato (429-347 B.C.) who reportedly observed, “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children. Play promotes feelings of happiness and well being as well as cognitive development. For children, however, play can be understood as even more vital. Play presents children and adults the opportunity to interact with one another, thus providing the language that is needed for children to communicate. When issues become so profound or confusing that words are difficult, play becomes even more important. Often, when children are given a new outlet for their difficult, confusing, or overwhelming feelings, their difficult behaviors will decrease. Children are also given what is called a “sense of mastery” over themselves and their emotions. This gives children a boost to their self esteem as they feel better equipped to deal with the world.
If you have questions around play therapy, please feel free to contact me.
Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship by Garry L. Landreth
Play Therapy Theory and Practice: Comparing Theories and Techniques by Kevin J. O'Connor
Photo courtesy of The Williams Institute
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Stephen Quinlan is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker who practices in Dover, NH