DEFINITION: APT defines play therapy as "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psycho-social difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.
RATIONALE: Adults often “talk through” their feelings, problems and issues. Children lack the verbal skills to do this, and so they “play through” real-life difficulties. Play therapy allows children to use their most natural medium to express themselves and resolve feelings and conflicts. They work at their own pace in a safe and supportive environment.
BENEFITS: In the process of working through conscious and unconscious issues in play therapy, children learn to identify their feelings and learn that all emotions are OK, when expressed in appropriate ways. They gain self-confidence, self control and a sense of self-direction, and begin to assume responsibility for themselves and their actions. Because they are allowed to express any negative feelings through play, they may be less likely to act out at school and at home.