In play therapy, toys are like the child's words and play is the child's language (Landreth, 2002). Through play, therapists may help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits (Pedro-Carroll & Reddy, 2005). The positive relationship that develops between therapist and child during play therapy sessions provides a corrective emotional experience necessary for healing (Moustakas, 1997).
Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children (Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002; O'Connor & Schaefer, 1983). The curative powers inherent in play are used in many ways. Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings (Gil, 1991).
Play therapy helps children:
-Develop increased self-control resulting in fewer acting out problems.
-Increase probelm-solving skills.
-Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
-Learn to experience and express emotion appropriately.
-Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
-Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
-Develop self-efficacy and self-esteem.
-Bond to caregivers.
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