Play is a natural and important activity
for children. It is the natural language
for communication and expression of feelings.
In fact, Maria Montessori believed that
play was “child’s work”.
Through play experiences, children can
clarify and master many basic physical,
social, emotional and intellectual skills
Play is the “vehicle” through
which children develop new thinking skills.
And, play has potential healing power.
We can understand children if we understand
This is why treatment of childhood
emotional and behavioral problems is
conducted through play.
How Does Play Therapy Work?
A licensed therapist with specialized
training in play therapy creates a safe
atmosphere in which the child can express
himself/herself, learn more effective ways
of communicating, learn about rules, and “play” through
The Play Therapist introduces
the child to the play room which has
a wide variety of carefully selected toys,
games, puppets, sandtray, and art supplies.
The child is allowed to select toys and
direct how she or he wants to play. The
Play Therapist pays close attention to
the child’s play activity and feelings.
Sometimes, the Play Therapist participates
in the play with the child. It is through
this relationship with the Therapist that
the child can express himself/herself.
When the child feels accepted, understood
and valued, therapeutic progress can
be made. And, because families play an
important role in a child’s health, family
members may sometimes be included in the
Will Play Benefit My Child?
shows the effectiveness of play therapy
with children who are experiencing emotional,
social, behavioral and learning problems,
including aggression/anger, anxiety/fear,
shyness, depression, ADHD, low self-esteem,
post-traumatic stress, learning difficulties,
bedwetting, sleep difficulties, and eating
Play therapy is also effective
with children experiencing stress related
to divorce, hospitalization, chronic
illness, physical/sexual abuse, domestic
violence, natural disasters (e.g., fire,
earthquake), death, accidents.
Because play has potential
healing power, by replaying a traumatic
experience such as an accident or emergency
operation, a child can overcome fear
and anxiety. In this form of play, the
child changes her/his role from victim
to “victor,” thereby
gaining reassurance, comfort and a sense
How Do I Find a Play
practice of play therapy requires specialized
training and experience. A Play Therapist
is, first, a mental health professional
with at least a Master’s
Degree in Psychology, Counseling, Social
Work, or closely related field.
Therapist should also be licensed to
practice therapy, consistent with their
degree. With advanced, specialized
training and supervision of clinical experience,
the therapist may also become a Registered
Play Therapist (RPT) or a Registered
Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S).
To find a Play Therapist, you may contact:
Association for Play Therapy
2050 N. Winery Ave, #101
Fresno , CA 93707
Phone: (559) 252-2278