Children and adults express themselves in very different ways. As adults, we mainly express our feelings, ideas, experiences, and opinions verbally. For example, when we go through a stressful or traumatic experience, we talk it through with several people in order to try and process it and eventually accept it. However, for children communication is primarily through physical expression such as play. Children learn and absorb new ideas, discover problem solving techniques, and practice skills acquired through experiential actions – meaning activities of physical experience. Because of this style of learning, education practices and learning in classrooms are more geared to ‘hands on learning’. For this reason, play therapy more adequately addresses children’s needs and mode of communication in that it’s more experiential than traditional talk therapy.
Play therapy is essentially the mode of therapy that is commonly used when working with children. In short, it is a term used to describe play activities other than simple conversation that are used when performing psychotherapy with children. Typically a child therapist uses play therapy in each session. Therefore, when looking for a therapist for your child, you do not need to inquire specifically about a ‘play therapist’ but rather a child therapist that uses play therapy.
The links below are a great introduction to learning more about Play Therapy and how it can help your child.