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Family Center

Play Therapy

A child and adult at play
In play therapy, toys are like the child's words and play is the child's language. - Landreth, 2002

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). 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 can provide a corrective emotional experience necessary for healing (Moustakas, 1997). Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005).

Play therapy helps children:

  • Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies
  • Develop new and creative solutions to problems
  • Develop respect and acceptance of self and others
  • Learn to experience and express emotion
  • Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others
  • Learn new social skills and relational skills with family
  • Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities

Adapted with permission from the Association of Play Therapy.

To make an appointment call 785-532-6984.

The Family Center serves people of all races, cultures, religious affiliations, sexual orientations, gender identities and financial backgrounds.