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Understanding Play Therapy: Solving Problems Through Play
Children are often poor at verbalizing what is bothering them; parents and guardians are left to understand their children by observing them and waiting for issues to become evident in their behavior. Often, when children are having problems, they “act out”, rebel, or become anxious and unusually withdrawn. While these actions may be frustrating, it’s important to remember that they are often cries for help.
Parents often become reactive, however, as they worry that their child’s behavior will grow worse over time, and result in more serious problems during adolescence and into adulthood. Parents may also be judged negatively and face criticism and complaints from teachers, daycare workers, coaches, or other parents, which leads to parents wishing to shut down the negative behaviors as quickly as possible. This, however, is seldom effective; instead, parents and guardians should seek help for the troubled child in the form of therapy —Notably, through the child-centric approach known as play therapy.
What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a method of psychotherapeutic treatment which was specifically created to help children between the ages of three to 12 years old. While its title may sound causal, play therapy is administered by a trained mental health professional, called a play therapist.
Children habitually use play to understand the world around them; a play therapist exploits this natural ability to work with a child in exploring and resolving problems through play, by making the play itself therapeutic in nature. This is performed in a counselling space known as a playroom, which is designed to look and feel like a standard playroom, while including toys that have actually been specially chosen to encourage the safe expression of feelings and streamline the learning of healthier behaviors.