Feb. 4-10 is National Play Therapy Week.
What is play therapy?
Play is a natural mode of communication for children. Play facilitates expression and exploration of children’s worlds. Young children often think in concrete terms, as they have not yet developmentally mastered abstract thinking. This advanced form of thinking is necessary to formulate and comprehend many verbal communications. Thus, children often lack the necessary cognitive and verbal abilities to articulate their painful emotional experiences. Play therapy provides the opportunity for children to work through their difficulties.
Why is play therapy important?
Play therapy lets children be heard and understood. It’s not threatening. Play is advantageous in establishing a positive therapeutic relationship, which is fundamental for growth. For young children, their developmental level impacts their ability to relate to therapists cognitively and emotionally. This can make the establishment of the therapeutic relationship challenging. However, because play emulates children’s developmental capacities of nonverbal communication skills, children are better able to engage in treatment.
How do I learn more?
Visit the Association for Play Therapy’s website, a4pt.org/.
Rachel Altvater is a licensed clinical professional counselor in Maryland, registered play therapist, and certified clinical trauma professional.