FAQs About Play Therapy

How can play therapy help your young child? Whether your child acts out at school, has unresolved anger issues, has a diagnosis such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or has other developmental needs, take a look at what you need to know about this type of therapeutic approach.

What Is Child Play Therapy?

This type of therapy is an interpersonal process between a trained play therapist and a child that helps to resolve psychosocial issues, prevent psychosocial difficulties, or improve developmental growth. 

According to the Association for Play Therapy (APT), professionals use this approach with children who have behavioral problems, require anger management, have experienced grief or loss, have experienced abandonment or trauma, are in a mental health crisis, or have a disorder including (but not limited to) ADHD, ASD, physical or learning disabilities, conduct disorders, impaired social or academic development, or a pervasive developmental issue.  

Why Choose This Type of Therapy?

The play approach isn't the only therapeutic option to help your child. Common childhood therapy techniques include individual or family talk therapy, art therapy, music therapy, parent-child interaction therapy, applied behavioral analysis therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. 

Even though there are more than a few types of therapy available for children, the specific method you choose depends on your child and their individual needs. Every type of therapy won't work equally for every child. This makes it important to find the right fit.

A play-based approach helps to create a safe space and a trusting relationship with the therapist. This type of therapy helps to reach the child on their level and in a way that makes sense to them. It can engage the child in an enjoyable activity that uses a language they easily understand—the language of play. This allows the child to express themselves, develop adaptive behaviors, and work with the therapist to make lasting changes.

Where Can You Find This Type of Therapy?

Not every therapist offers a play-based approach. If this is your first experience with therapy, you may need to start with your child's pediatrician. While the pediatrician can't provide this type of therapy, they can refer you to an agency, clinic, or individual therapist practice that does. The therapist you choose should have graduate-level training (a master's or doctoral degree) in mental health or a related field, clinical experience in play-based approaches, and a credential based on specialized training, such as a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) or Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S) designation. 

Contact a local therapy service, such as Life Redefined Clinical Counseling, to learn more.