Dr. Courtney Knapp

Child & Adolescent Psychologist Serving Orange County, California

Introduction to Play Therapy

Gary Landreth discusses why play therapy is helpful for children.  Children lack the cognitive and verbal abilities to participate in talk therapy.  Since play is their natural mode of communication, play therapy helps children engage in the therapeutic process.  Play is to the child what verbalization is to the adult.  Feelings and thoughts that may be too threatening for a child to express directly can be safely projected through toys.  Play can reveal what the child has experienced; reactions to what was experienced; feelings about what was experienced; what the child wishes, wants, or needs; and the child’s perception of self.  There are many experiences in childhood in which children feel they have little or no control.  Through play the child experiences a feeling of being in control.  The Association for Play Therapy defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”

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