Benefits of Play Therapy Children and their families can benefit from play therapy. Children benefit from having developmentally suited toys and activities to express themselves in an emotionally safe environment. Families can develop stronger family cohesiveness and problem-solving through either family play therapy sessions or by incorporating parents separately while their child engages in play therapy sessions. Play Therapy helps children develop on all levels including socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively. How Will Play Therapy Benefit A Child? Play therapy is implemented as a treatment of choice in mental health, school, agency, developmental, hospital, residential, and recreational settings, with clients of all ages (Carmichael, 2006; Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005).Play therapy treatment plans have been utilized as the primary intervention or as an adjunctive therapy for multiple mental health conditions and concerns(Gil &Drewes, 2004; Landreth, Sweeney, Ray, Homeyer& Glover, 2005), e.g anger management, grief and loss, divorce and family dissolution, and crisis and trauma, and for modification of behavioral disorders (Landreth, 2002), e.g. anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders (Bratton, Ray & Rhine, 2005).Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005). Play therapy helps children: Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies. Develop new and creative solutions to problems. Develop respect and acceptance of self and others. Learn to experience and express emotion. Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others. Learn new social skills and relational skills with family. Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities. Authors The information displayed for the general public and mental health professionals in this section was initially crafted by JP Lilly, LCSW, RPT-S, Kevin O’Connor, PhD, RPT-S, and Teri Krull, LCSW, RPT-S and later revised in part by Charles Schaefer, PhD, RPT-S, Garry Landreth, EdD, LPC, RPT-S, and Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, EdD, LPC, RPT-S. Linked mental health conditions and concerns and behavioral disorders were drafted by Pehrsson and Karla Carmichael, PhD, LPC, RPT-S respectively. Research citations were compiled by Pehrsson and Oregon State University graduate assistant Mary Aguilera. APT sincerely thanks these individuals for their contributions!

What is Play Therapy? Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that is strategically used to help children express what is troubling them. Play allows a safe psychological distance from their problems, which allows them to express their true thoughts and feelings in ways best suited to their developmental level. Research shows Play Therapy is beneficial for people of all ages. A positive relationship with the therapist provides a corrective emotional experience necessary for healing (Moustakas, 1997). Licensed professionals use play therapeutically to help clients better process their experiences and develop more effective strategies for managing their lives. How is Play Therapy Different to The Play My Child Does on Their Own? Play is a natural form of self-expression for children. Children use play to process their lives, cope and develop socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively. Sometimes children get “stuck” in their development and playing on their own isn’t enough to resolve their problems. They need help to use their play to make sense of their world and develop strategies to cope. Play therapists create a safe environment to fully explore their world including areas that they are stuck and past traumas that they are unsuccessful at resolving on their own. Additionally, play therapists are guides at helping to develop new solutions, get past areas that are overwhelming, and develop new perspectives of things that are troubling. Play therapists use many techniques to help children become “unstuck.”  

Types of Play Therapy There are more than 25 “types” of play therapy. Play therapy is a way theoretical models of psychotherapy are used with a client. Just like in “talk therapy” therapists are trained to utilize certain theories of treatment. A talk therapist might use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as the theoretical model for treatment with a teen or adult whereas a Play Therapist would use Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy with a child. At Evergreen Play Therapy we utilize an Integrative Play Therapy framework, which allows a range of play therapy models to be drawn from and applied in an integrative way. We also use a model in it’s pure form when appropriate for a session or across sessions. Ask about your therapist’s approach as it could be very different from other play therapists or your assumptions. Some examples of play therapy theories drawn from at Evergreen Play Therapy include (not a full list): Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy-This is a particularly useful approach for older children and children that are aware, open and ready to discuss the challenges they’ve come to therapy for. Client Centered Play Therapy- In this school of thought the client is assisted in expressing their feelings and finding solutions by being given the opportunity to bring forward what they feel is most critical to them. This allows the child to address what is most difficult through symbolism. The therapist joins their world through accepting symbolism. Narrative Play Therapy- Some clients will come home with written stories or create live action stories with their therapist in session. The focus can be to recreate the story of something difficult and provide a more self-actualizing experience whereby gaining insight and express one’s feelings, cognitions and skills among other benefits. Theraplay- Theraplay is a family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge. Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding. Example Goals for Theraplay: Increase self-esteem and capacity to feel competent independently. Increase ability to follow directions and accept routines. In treatment, the Theraplay therapist guides the parent and child through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent regulate the child’s behavior and communicate love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy.

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We accept a small number of active concierge clients in order to provide our first-class service. Are you ready to commit time and resources for your family wellness journey? If so we’d like to speak with you and hear about your needs over a complimentary call. 

Family Play Therapy