Play is an universal language for children. Play relieves feelings of stress, anxiety, boredom, and many others, while also connecting us to the people we are engaging in play with. The Association for Play Therapy (APT) (www.a4pt.org) defines play therapy as "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."
Children learn and develop through play, and play therapy allows healthy growth and development, while also allowing the safe space children can need to process through difficult times.
Play therapy is an evidence-based approach to therapy that builds on the normal learning model employed by children (Landreth, 2002). Therapists strategically use play to aid children in expressing what is troubling them, often allowing them to express what might be an issue even if they do not yet have the ability to verbalize their feelings (Drewes, 2009). In play therapy, children utilize toys as their words, and play as their language (Landreth, 2002).
Play therapy helps children to: