Play Therapy

Has play therapy been recommended for your child and you want to learn more about it?  Is it something you have considered but were not sure where to go or how to find out about it?  Read this post to find out more about play therapy and whether it is right for your family.

It can be confusing for families to read about the numerous styles of therapy out there.  But rest assured, when you read about play therapy, there is nothing too confusing about it.  Children communicate using play.  Play is their language of choice.  It allows them to process information from their day-to-day lives.  For instance, we often see children who have recently lost a loved one acting out funerals in their play.  Some children who are angry about loss may use violence in their play to exhibit this anger.  Children who are experiencing a change in their family system may gravitate to playing house in the playroom.  Children who say very little with words tell us so much through their play.

Play therapists are trained in special ways so that they can interpret the language of play.  They facilitate a space for children to work out their innermost feelings.  Some therapists interweave more concrete skills and strategies into the play, but non-directive play therapists will focus on facilitating a safe place for expression.  There’s no one right way to do therapy, it just depends on the needs of your child. 

Play Therapy: Expressing Emotions and Thoughts Through Play

It is expected that children engage in play-based behaviour.  We provide them a space in the therapy room to do what is natural for them.  If they feel safe and feel that the therapist is listening and engaging with them, they often reveal important thoughts and feelings through their play.  This is far more accepted by many children over talk therapy.

Different toys are used for children depending on what they are going through.  Playrooms are often filled with nurturing toys like dolls, creative toys like art supplies, sensory toys like sand trays, and toy swords for more aggressive play.  Play therapists take note of important themes in the play and watch these themes change over time.  Play provides counsellors with insight into how the child is thinking and feeling.  These clues help us understand your child’s behaviour.  We can then communicate this to parents so that they better understand how their child is processing their experiences.

What type of problems or concerns might prompt a parent to refer their child for play therapy?

  • Parental Mental Illness
  • Sibling Challenges
  • Interpersonal Difficulties
  • Anxiety
  • Low Mood
  • Reduced Social Skills
  • Behavioural Challenges
  • Autism
  • School Challenges
  • Family System Changes
  • Major Life Adjustments (ie. Moving, parent divorce, new medical conditions)
  • ADHD
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Trauma
  • Grief and Loss

How do you choose a counsellor?

Book a free consultation and ask:

  • about their experience helping children with your child’s presenting issue
  • if they integrate skills or use a more non-directive play therapy approach
  • how parents are involved in the process

If you are interested in learning more, connect with one of our play-based therapists at Island Clinical Counselling for a free consultation.  Check out our biographies in the About Us section to see which of us work with your child’s age group. Check out play therapy in Nanaimo, Port Alberni, or virtually.

Written by Kathryn Atkinson

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