Updated: Feb 5, 2018
Have you ever wondered why children don't always respond the way you wish they did? Have you ever felt frustrated when your child says "I don't know" after every reasonable question you ask? If so, check out this video.
Children communicate differently from adults, but that doesn't limit their ability to express themselves. Children use play as "words" to express their feelings, needs, and wishes.
That's why play therapy works.
Play therapy is a developmentally appropriate treatment approach for young children and teens. Some might disagree, because there are misconceptions that play is for "little kids" and "can't possibly be therapy". However, there has been extensive research on the benefits of play therapy, such as decreased anxiety, depression, aggression, and behavior problems. It also has protective factors. For example, children who engage in play therapy are less likely to have self-esteem issues and tend to have lowered parent-child relationship stress.
Play therapy impacts families and communities. It empowers parents, grandparents, teachers, and other adult figures to better understand and appreciate the child in their life who has a legitimate need to be heard, understood, and considered.
As a certified play therapist, I have witnessed the process work and help kids feel better. My favorite part of play therapy is watching children transform in their self-confidence. I have observed shy and fearful children become expressive, happy, and playful.
I want to give a special thanks to the Association for Play Therapy for spreading awareness about children's mental health nationwide. Check it out to learn more about the benefits of play therapy and how to grow in your communication with your child.
Take some time to play today!
Oksana Thompson is a licensed mental health counselor and certified play therapist. She is a member of NBCC and the Association for Play Therapy. Oksana is the business owner of Inner Wellness Counseling PLLC.