What is play therapy?

Play Therapy is a specific counselling approach in which games, toys and mediums such as clay, drawings and paint are used to help a child or adolescent to express their emotions, thoughts, wishes and needs. It helps them to understand muddled feelings and upsetting events that they have not had the chance or the skills to sort out properly. Rather than having to explain what is troubling them, as adult therapy usually expects, children use play to communicate at their own level and at their own pace, without feeling interrogated or threatened.

Two world renowned play therapists describe it as follows:

“I feel privileged to have found effective ways of helping children ease through some difficult passages in their lives. Children are our finest teachers. They already know how to grow, how to develop, how to learn, how to expand and discover, how to feel, laugh and cry and get mad, what is right for them and what is not right for them, what they need. They already know how to love and be joyful and to live life to its fullest, to work and to be strong and full of energy. All they need is the space to do it.”

- Violet Oaklander

“Through play a child is able to release pent-up feelings of anxiety, disappointment, fear, aggression, insecurity, and confusion. Bringing these feelings to the surface encourages the child to deal with them, learn to master them, or abandon them. Through symbolic representation, the child gains a sense of control over events that seem uncontrollable in reality. Often, children are unable to verbally express what they are feeling; thus, in play therapy toys serve as children’s words and play as their language.”

- Garry Landreth