Call Us
Southeast: (403)619-5354
Banner Image

The Power of Play in Therapy

Posted on: Thursday, December 7th, 2023

Have you ever wondered why therapists play with children? Aren’t they supposed to be talking to them? You may be surprised to find out that this is exactly what they’re doing! Play is the most natural and comfortable way for children to communicate.

Think of play as a channel through which children can express a full range of thoughts and feelings. Depending on age, children may have difficulty thinking about abstract things like grief that they cannot see or have a limited vocabulary to express their emotions. Non-directive play allows them to show us what’s going on inside and is the most developmentally appropriate way to engage children. By allowing them to direct play during sessions, therapists reduce the power imbalance and invite children to be the experts on their experiences.

Play is also powerful tool for separating problems from children known as ‘externalizing.’ Children coming to therapy often have an internalized concept of, I am a “bad kid”, “social misfit”, or “anxious outsider” (just to name a few) that results from exposure to discussions of their negative behavior and traits by parents, teachers, and other caregivers. Using puppets, stories, movies, and toys, children and parents begin to see problems as separate from the child and they begin to explore ways that the child can and HAS overcome the problem. The problem could be bed wetting, the child could be helped to catch the pee before it leaks. The child is not the problem. The sneaky pee, is.

Children are part of a larger system, and the use of play in a therapeutic way allows therapists to include parents in the play and thus help to generalize the skills outside of therapy. Playing with your children at home continues the work of building positive social skills, problem solving abilities, and reducing anxiety. Engaging the natural tendency for children to play allows parents to continue the work in a warm, caring, accepting environment that will improve their child’s quality of life.

Call today to schedule a session with a child therapist and discover the true power of play to heal! 403-619-5354

Blog by Suzanne Weeks

Comments are closed.