There are several types of play therapy. I generally work from a couple of models including child-centered play therapy and experiential play therapy.
In child-centered play therapy, the therapist does not assume he or she knows about and should, therefore, direct the therapeutic process. The content and direction of the child’s play is determined by the child. Child-centered play therapists believe in the child’s capacity to strive toward growth and maturity and that children know what they need to heal themselves (Kevin O’Connor and Lisa Braverman).
Experiential play therapy believes that children encounter their world at an experiential rather than cognitive level. Play is a child’s medium of expressing his or her experiences as well as his or her feelings about him or herself. Since children encounter their world, including therapy, at an experiential level they must disclose their emotions in more primitive ways than verbal communication. By providing a secure relationship for the child, the therapist lays a foundation upon which the child may build his or her therapeutic issues, test them, then rebuild them in a way that he or she can understand, tolerate, and accept them (Carol and Byron Norton).