What is Play Therapy?

Play has always been an essential part of child development and is the main communication tool for children. Since play is a natural form of self-expression it can be utilized as a way of working therapeutically with children that are experiencing behavioural and emotional difficulties.

Play therapy incorporates many activities called ‘tools’ for children to utilize which help them express themselves and process events in their lives. Some of these ‘tools’ include art, sand, role play, and music. Using these tools, play therapy allows the child the opportunity to play out their feelings and problems. For children to partake in play therapy, they do not need to be able to verbally share what is happening for them, their world is expressed through their play!

Virginia Mae Axline (1911-1988), an American psychologist and a pioneer of play therapy, is known for the non-directive technique and establishing eight key principles for the therapist to follow. With this technique the therapist supports the child in being able to process their experiences at their own pace in a non-overwhelming manner. The therapist creates a therapeutic rapport which provides the children with acceptance, helping the child feel capable within themselves, and supports the child in gaining insights. Non-directive play therapy creates an approachable therapy for children to engage in.  Helping them feel confident, find their voice and process the tough stuff in life!

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