Have you ever watched a child play and wondered what was going through their mind? We like to think that we know exactly what kids are thinking at any given time. But because they lack the communication skills to make their thoughts and emotions known, it is really tough to be sure. That is where play therapy comes in.
Play therapy is an evidenced-based strategy for helping children overcome emotional problems, behavioral problems, and even traumas. It was first introduced during the early 20th century and is informed by a variety of psychological theories.
If your child seems to be struggling emotionally or behaviorally, there may be a path forward via child-centered play therapy. We would be happy to consult with you on the possibility of treating your child.
The Basics of Play Therapy
Play therapy is utilized by trained therapists to gain insight into a child’s emotional or behavioral state. Both directive and nondirective play are utilized, with the therapist observing how the child goes about the play experience. What a child may not be able to articulate through words is often articulated through behaviors during play.
Directive play associates what a child is doing with some sort of task the therapist is hoping to accomplish. In essence, the child is directed along a certain path so that reactions can be observed. Nondirective play is just the opposite. Children are given a selection of toys to play with and let go to do what they will. The same types of observations can be made here.
Play Therapy Is Effective
As previously mentioned, play therapy is informed by numerous psychological theories. But it is also an evidenced-based therapy unto itself. At least one study out of the UK demonstrates 71% effectiveness for children who undergo play therapy. There are never any guarantees in the mental health realm, but play therapy is one of the most effective therapies in all of psychology.
Just the simple act of watching your child play could reveal a lot about their emotional state. Certain observations can reveal traumas mom and dad were completely unaware of. They can also reveal thought patterns that parents would not otherwise recognize. All the observations put together can help both parents and therapists better understand a child for the purposes of addressing emotional or behavioral issues.
A Step Toward Better Mental Health
Parents naturally want what is best for their children. They certainly want their kids to be both physically and mentally healthy. If you have any questions at all about your child’s mental health, let us talk about them. Let’s talk about what you have observed and what you are thinking. If it turns out your child is struggling with emotional or behavioral problems, play therapy could be a step toward better mental health.
We adults tend to think of play as meaningless and perhaps a bit frivolous. But play time is a time for a child to explore the surrounding world, form thoughts about that world, and respond to it. As a child is working through all those thoughts and emotions, what is being processed in the mind is played out in behavior. We can observe that behavior and get a better understanding of what is going on.
Like you, we want what’s best for your child. So if you think play therapy might benefit your son or daughter, do not hesitate to reach out to Aspire Psychological. We look forward to working with you and your little one.