Play Therapy in Calgary, AB

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Photo of Danielle Nicholson, Registered Provisional Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Danielle Nicholson
Registered Provisional Psychologist, MC, BSc
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T3E
My therapeutic approach is collaborative, compassionate and strength-based. I specialize in working with children aged 3-12 and their parents. I am passionate about supporting families with concerns related to neurodevelopmental disorders and anxiety, including separation anxiety, behavioural and emotional regulation challenges, ADHD, ASD, motor disorders and learning disorders. My work with children incorporates play therapy/art therapy, behavioural therapy, narrative therapy and parenting skills. No matter the challenge, your child will be welcomed into a fun, supportive and safe environment filled with activities and laughter.
My therapeutic approach is collaborative, compassionate and strength-based. I specialize in working with children aged 3-12 and their parents. I am passionate about supporting families with concerns related to neurodevelopmental disorders and anxiety, including separation anxiety, behavioural and emotional regulation challenges, ADHD, ASD, motor disorders and learning disorders. My work with children incorporates play therapy/art therapy, behavioural therapy, narrative therapy and parenting skills. No matter the challenge, your child will be welcomed into a fun, supportive and safe environment filled with activities and laughter.
(587) 602-1358 View (587) 602-1358
Photo of Rebca Zawde, Registered Social Worker in Calgary, AB
Rebca Zawde
Registered Social Worker, MSW, RCSW, RPT
Verified
2 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T3C
My primary focus lies in using creative ways (play, art, sand tray) to work through concerns.
Navigating life's difficulties can cause us to feel disconnected, exhausted, and frustrated among other things. Whether ongoing or temporary, they can erode our ability to tap into the very things that have supported us thus far—our strengths, values, and tenacity. I am here to support you and/or your child with many sticky concerns.
My primary focus lies in using creative ways (play, art, sand tray) to work through concerns.
Navigating life's difficulties can cause us to feel disconnected, exhausted, and frustrated among other things. Whether ongoing or temporary, they can erode our ability to tap into the very things that have supported us thus far—our strengths, values, and tenacity. I am here to support you and/or your child with many sticky concerns.
(587) 912-2038 View (587) 912-2038
Photo of Paloma Scott, Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Paloma Scott
Psychologist, MA, in, Psych
Verified
Calgary, AB T2H
Scott utilizes evidence-based approaches: CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Habit Reversal Therapy, Mindfulness, Solution Focussed, Play-Based Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing.
Mrs. Scott has twenty three years of experience in providing psychotherapy to children, teens, adults, couples and families from different backgrounds with Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Tic Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disorder, giftedness. Mrs. Scott helps clients with emotional self-regulation, anger management, social skills, defiance, social anxiety, separation, grieving, and parenting skills. Her goal is to genuinely support people to develop skills, build resilience and excel their lives towards growth, healing, plenitude and success.
Scott utilizes evidence-based approaches: CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Habit Reversal Therapy, Mindfulness, Solution Focussed, Play-Based Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing.
Mrs. Scott has twenty three years of experience in providing psychotherapy to children, teens, adults, couples and families from different backgrounds with Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Tic Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disorder, giftedness. Mrs. Scott helps clients with emotional self-regulation, anger management, social skills, defiance, social anxiety, separation, grieving, and parenting skills. Her goal is to genuinely support people to develop skills, build resilience and excel their lives towards growth, healing, plenitude and success.
(587) 844-0549 View (587) 844-0549
Photo of Jessica Dawson, Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Jessica Dawson
Psychologist
Verified
Calgary, AB T3E
I draw from CBT, Gottman Method, solution-focused, person-centred, play, attachment, and mindfulness approaches to provide a range of solutions.
Thinking about making a change? The first step can feel like a lot. I am so happy to see you here! I help children, teens, and adults facing a range of concerns including anxiety, depression, OCD, self-esteem issues, emotional regulation challenges, ADHD, autism. I also support interpersonal issues including couples counselling, parenting support, peer challenges, and social skills development. I like working as a team and actively seek and incorporate client feedback as an integral part of sessions. I aim to provide a warm and safe space for clients.
I draw from CBT, Gottman Method, solution-focused, person-centred, play, attachment, and mindfulness approaches to provide a range of solutions.
Thinking about making a change? The first step can feel like a lot. I am so happy to see you here! I help children, teens, and adults facing a range of concerns including anxiety, depression, OCD, self-esteem issues, emotional regulation challenges, ADHD, autism. I also support interpersonal issues including couples counselling, parenting support, peer challenges, and social skills development. I like working as a team and actively seek and incorporate client feedback as an integral part of sessions. I aim to provide a warm and safe space for clients.
(825) 250-3436 View (825) 250-3436
Photo of Solace Counselling, Clinical Social Work/Therapist in Calgary, AB
Solace Counselling
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MSW, RSW
Verified
Calgary, AB T2M
I have additional training in the areas of trauma (EMDR) and directive and non-directive play therapy in my work with empowering children.
My goal is to connect with you in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. I work collaboratively with my clients towards finding relief and life changing solutions, recognizing that people have power and strength within them. Whether it's problematic relationships, parenting support, stress, family dynamics, mental health issues or trauma that is impacting your life, I have seen over and over that change can happen. I offer a warm approach to therapy and welcome any struggle, small or large. Although I work with a variety of adult clients I am known for easily connecting with children and adolescents.
I have additional training in the areas of trauma (EMDR) and directive and non-directive play therapy in my work with empowering children.
My goal is to connect with you in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. I work collaboratively with my clients towards finding relief and life changing solutions, recognizing that people have power and strength within them. Whether it's problematic relationships, parenting support, stress, family dynamics, mental health issues or trauma that is impacting your life, I have seen over and over that change can happen. I offer a warm approach to therapy and welcome any struggle, small or large. Although I work with a variety of adult clients I am known for easily connecting with children and adolescents.
(825) 445-0050 View (825) 445-0050
Photo of Bernadene Weskin, Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Bernadene Weskin
Psychologist, MSc, RPsych
Verified
9 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T2M
I believe that if a child feels free to play, to explore and deal with their emotions, issues and sense of self in a non-judgmental atmosphere, they will begin to gain self-regulation, self-esteem and create a positive identity from which they can build upon.
Parenting can be the most stressful role you will ever have and I am here to support you and your family to become stronger and overcome life's hurdles together. I am experienced in working with children, adolescents, and their families. I have comprehensive training in play therapy and I understand that building strong, supportive relationships will mean less time in therapy. Whether it is trauma, anxiety, depression, school refusal, anger issues, self-esteem issues, a learning or behavioral diagnosis, or many other presenting concerns, I can achieve results because children look forward to coming to their sessions.
I believe that if a child feels free to play, to explore and deal with their emotions, issues and sense of self in a non-judgmental atmosphere, they will begin to gain self-regulation, self-esteem and create a positive identity from which they can build upon.
Parenting can be the most stressful role you will ever have and I am here to support you and your family to become stronger and overcome life's hurdles together. I am experienced in working with children, adolescents, and their families. I have comprehensive training in play therapy and I understand that building strong, supportive relationships will mean less time in therapy. Whether it is trauma, anxiety, depression, school refusal, anger issues, self-esteem issues, a learning or behavioral diagnosis, or many other presenting concerns, I can achieve results because children look forward to coming to their sessions.
(587) 800-1606 View (587) 800-1606
Photo of Fazilah Shariff, Clinical Social Work/Therapist in Calgary, AB
Fazilah Shariff
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MSW, RSW, MHA
Verified
Calgary, AB T2L
Then, through candid discussions, play-based techniques, and art therapy, your family will gain strategies to navigate challenges while learning to support one another in the process.
Is your child or adolescent grappling with life's challenges, which at times can feel overwhelming? Or is your family experiencing difficulties in your relationships with one another? Are there communication breakdowns, conflicts, or tensions that appear insurmountable? It's natural for parents to be deeply concerned about their child's well-being. Your commitment to finding ways to support them is a testament to your love and dedication. I believe that genuine healing and growth come from working together as a unit.
Then, through candid discussions, play-based techniques, and art therapy, your family will gain strategies to navigate challenges while learning to support one another in the process.
Is your child or adolescent grappling with life's challenges, which at times can feel overwhelming? Or is your family experiencing difficulties in your relationships with one another? Are there communication breakdowns, conflicts, or tensions that appear insurmountable? It's natural for parents to be deeply concerned about their child's well-being. Your commitment to finding ways to support them is a testament to your love and dedication. I believe that genuine healing and growth come from working together as a unit.
(825) 250-4878 View (825) 250-4878
Photo of Abrielle (Abby) Heck, Clinical Social Work/Therapist in Calgary, AB
Abrielle (Abby) Heck
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MSW, RSW
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T2P
Abrielle has extensive experience supporting children (5-18 years old) and their families, who are struggling with emotional regulation, anxiety, loss, trauma, transitions and enhancing parent-child connections. She draws on her knowledge and training in Emotionally Focused Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Circle of Security, and Play and Art therapy interventions.
Abrielle has extensive experience supporting children (5-18 years old) and their families, who are struggling with emotional regulation, anxiety, loss, trauma, transitions and enhancing parent-child connections. She draws on her knowledge and training in Emotionally Focused Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Circle of Security, and Play and Art therapy interventions.
(825) 250-3546 View (825) 250-3546
Marie Sutherby
Psychologist, BA, MEd, RPsych
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T2J
I have additional training in cognitive-behavioral therapy, as well as, play-based and attachment therapies.
Hello and welcome! I am a Registered Psychologist working in SE Calgary. I provide support to parents and families who are struggling or concerned with their child's behavioral, social, emotional, or academic well-being. I also work directly with children and teens to address a wide range of concerns such as mood and regulation concerns (e.g., anxiety, depression, stress), social skills, self-esteem, trauma, and grief.
I have additional training in cognitive-behavioral therapy, as well as, play-based and attachment therapies.
Hello and welcome! I am a Registered Psychologist working in SE Calgary. I provide support to parents and families who are struggling or concerned with their child's behavioral, social, emotional, or academic well-being. I also work directly with children and teens to address a wide range of concerns such as mood and regulation concerns (e.g., anxiety, depression, stress), social skills, self-esteem, trauma, and grief.
(403) 640-7667 View (403) 640-7667
Jhan Groom
Psychologist, BA, Psyc, MACP, RCAT
Verified
Calgary, AB T1Y
For children and adults who have experienced various types of trauma, I use a combination of trauma-informed art and symbolic play, Attachment-focused EMDR, solution -focused therapy, as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as needed.
I am a mature adult with a variety of life experiences, and am a Registered Art Therapist with the Canadian Art Therapy Association, and a Registered Psychologist in Alberta. I have over 10 years of experience in art and play based therapy, specifically for children, and particularly with traumatized children who have been physically, emotionally, mentally and sexually abused. I also have experience working with women and children who have left domestic abuse. In addition I work with adults who are still suffering the effects of childhood abuse. This includes forms of dissociative disorder. I also work with clients who are experiencing depression and anxiety.
For children and adults who have experienced various types of trauma, I use a combination of trauma-informed art and symbolic play, Attachment-focused EMDR, solution -focused therapy, as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as needed.
I am a mature adult with a variety of life experiences, and am a Registered Art Therapist with the Canadian Art Therapy Association, and a Registered Psychologist in Alberta. I have over 10 years of experience in art and play based therapy, specifically for children, and particularly with traumatized children who have been physically, emotionally, mentally and sexually abused. I also have experience working with women and children who have left domestic abuse. In addition I work with adults who are still suffering the effects of childhood abuse. This includes forms of dissociative disorder. I also work with clients who are experiencing depression and anxiety.
(877) 447-0388 View (877) 447-0388
Photo of Miranda Desrochers, Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Miranda Desrochers
Psychologist, MA, RPsych
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T2R
Waitlist for new clients
In addition to counselling and play-based therapy, I am also skilled in administering psychological and psychoeducational assessments.
Are you looking for a warm, compassionate, and playful psychologist to work with your child or yourself? I’m Miranda, a Registered Psychologist who specializes in assessment and counselling with children, teens, and families. I provide an integrative and holistic approach and am committed to offering clients an effective and meaningful therapeutic experience. I believe that all children and families have the desire and ability to move toward healthy functioning. Using evidence-based practice and a warm and supportive therapeutic relationship, I am honoured to guide this process for the families I see.
In addition to counselling and play-based therapy, I am also skilled in administering psychological and psychoeducational assessments.
Are you looking for a warm, compassionate, and playful psychologist to work with your child or yourself? I’m Miranda, a Registered Psychologist who specializes in assessment and counselling with children, teens, and families. I provide an integrative and holistic approach and am committed to offering clients an effective and meaningful therapeutic experience. I believe that all children and families have the desire and ability to move toward healthy functioning. Using evidence-based practice and a warm and supportive therapeutic relationship, I am honoured to guide this process for the families I see.
(587) 801-8062 View (587) 801-8062
Photo of Angela Grace, Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Angela Grace
Psychologist, PhD, MEd, BFA, BEd
Verified
Calgary, AB T2L
Waitlist for new clients
With over 20 years specialization in counselling girls and women, my focus goes beyond talk therapy. I conduct comprehensive assessments for children, and engage them in play, art, sand tray, story, and music therapy. Healing trauma in women requires a strong social justice approach with multifaceted approach to healing. As a compassionate social justice advocate, you can rest assured you have me on your side. Long Covid Kids, women with Long Covid, and psychedelic integration are prioritized.
With over 20 years specialization in counselling girls and women, my focus goes beyond talk therapy. I conduct comprehensive assessments for children, and engage them in play, art, sand tray, story, and music therapy. Healing trauma in women requires a strong social justice approach with multifaceted approach to healing. As a compassionate social justice advocate, you can rest assured you have me on your side. Long Covid Kids, women with Long Covid, and psychedelic integration are prioritized.
(825) 250-4592 View (825) 250-4592
Photo of Celeste Rodrigues-Forbes, Clinical Social Work/Therapist in Calgary, AB
Celeste Rodrigues-Forbes
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MSW, RSW
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T2E
My approach is informed by a trauma informed lens, play therapy interventions, body based integration, systems theory, attachment theory, social learning theory and Gottman method couples therapy.
I am an open and caring individual, focused on partnering with my clients to help them make the changes they want in their lives. With nearly a decade of experience working with various high risk populations, I am able to quickly build relationships and create an environment of safety and stability. From these trusting therapeutic relationships, I work with my clients to address what is holding them back and set a course for where they want their future to go.
My approach is informed by a trauma informed lens, play therapy interventions, body based integration, systems theory, attachment theory, social learning theory and Gottman method couples therapy.
I am an open and caring individual, focused on partnering with my clients to help them make the changes they want in their lives. With nearly a decade of experience working with various high risk populations, I am able to quickly build relationships and create an environment of safety and stability. From these trusting therapeutic relationships, I work with my clients to address what is holding them back and set a course for where they want their future to go.
(587) 612-5076 View (587) 612-5076
Photo of Vanessa Chen, Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Vanessa Chen
Psychologist, HBsc, MEd
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T2N
I use the frameworks of Synergetic play therapy, emotionally focused therapy, behavioural therapy, solution-focused therapy and mindfulness.
I am a Registered Provisional Psychologist, and I love working with children, adolescents, adults and families. I will provide you an environment to allow you to process thoughts, feelings and/or to come up with solutions if needed. I am passionate about guiding you towards lasting positive changes and wholeness.
I use the frameworks of Synergetic play therapy, emotionally focused therapy, behavioural therapy, solution-focused therapy and mindfulness.
I am a Registered Provisional Psychologist, and I love working with children, adolescents, adults and families. I will provide you an environment to allow you to process thoughts, feelings and/or to come up with solutions if needed. I am passionate about guiding you towards lasting positive changes and wholeness.
(587) 813-6836 View (587) 813-6836
Photo of Janelle Morhun, Registered Provisional Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Janelle Morhun
Registered Provisional Psychologist, MSc
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T2N
Seeking support is a significant step in your healing journey and I am glad that you are here. I provide a safe and nonjudgmental space to support my clients in working toward what is most important to them. I have an in-depth understanding of the impact trauma can have on our brains, our day-to-day lives, and our relationships. I am trained in EMDR and use brain-based approaches to heal traumas that keep my clients stuck. I enjoy bringing creativity into the therapy space through art, play, gentle movement, or whatever creativity may look like to you. This creativity helps me to tailor my therapy approach to clients of all ages.
Seeking support is a significant step in your healing journey and I am glad that you are here. I provide a safe and nonjudgmental space to support my clients in working toward what is most important to them. I have an in-depth understanding of the impact trauma can have on our brains, our day-to-day lives, and our relationships. I am trained in EMDR and use brain-based approaches to heal traumas that keep my clients stuck. I enjoy bringing creativity into the therapy space through art, play, gentle movement, or whatever creativity may look like to you. This creativity helps me to tailor my therapy approach to clients of all ages.
(587) 858-0836 View (587) 858-0836
Photo of Jacqueline Van Starkenburg, Registered Provisional Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Jacqueline Van Starkenburg
Registered Provisional Psychologist, MACP, BCHST
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T2X
Starting therapy can feel scary and difficult, and I am here to support you as you begin this journey toward healing and growth. I use a variety of modalities that best suit the needs of my clients and work from a trauma informed and attachment-based lens. I utilize Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness, Therapeutic Play, Solution Focused strategies, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and use a Strength Based approach.
Starting therapy can feel scary and difficult, and I am here to support you as you begin this journey toward healing and growth. I use a variety of modalities that best suit the needs of my clients and work from a trauma informed and attachment-based lens. I utilize Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness, Therapeutic Play, Solution Focused strategies, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and use a Strength Based approach.
(825) 254-7901 View (825) 254-7901
Photo of Melissa L. Martin, Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Melissa L. Martin
Psychologist, MEd, RPsych
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T3C
Waitlist for new clients
I have formal training in psychoeducational assessment and counselling training in art and play therapy.
I enjoy working with children, pre-teens, and adolescents (ages 5-18) as well as with young adults and parents. I specialize in depression, anxiety, self-esteem, emotional regulation, ADHD, family/peer relationship difficulties, life transitions, academic issues, perfectionism, and trauma-related concerns. I feel that it is important to develop a secure, trusting connection with my clients so that they feel comfortable discussing their concerns, exploring what help they need, to gain some insight, and to work with me on addressing these issues. I feel that the client is the expert and I offer a supportive, nonjudgement approach.
I have formal training in psychoeducational assessment and counselling training in art and play therapy.
I enjoy working with children, pre-teens, and adolescents (ages 5-18) as well as with young adults and parents. I specialize in depression, anxiety, self-esteem, emotional regulation, ADHD, family/peer relationship difficulties, life transitions, academic issues, perfectionism, and trauma-related concerns. I feel that it is important to develop a secure, trusting connection with my clients so that they feel comfortable discussing their concerns, exploring what help they need, to gain some insight, and to work with me on addressing these issues. I feel that the client is the expert and I offer a supportive, nonjudgement approach.
(825) 445-0087 View (825) 445-0087
Photo of Illisha Patterson Psychological Services in Calgary, AB
Illisha Patterson Psychological Services
RPsych, MAPsych
Verified
5 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T3M
I have specialized training in CBT, EMDR, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Trauma Focused Therapy and Play Therapy.
As a psychologist I often hear "no one can help because no one understands!". Sometimes people feel overwhelmed and alone in the pain, fear and uncertainty. When chaos and crises are your daily reality, how do you manage? When you keep thinking about the horrible things that did or could happen, how do you stop? When you don't want to get up in the morning, how do you face the day? Honestly, I don't have all the answers but I have personally seen people find joy despite ongoing sorrow and I have seen tears and smiles coexist. I believe that with the right support, all people can explore how to find a sense of calm within the storm.
I have specialized training in CBT, EMDR, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Trauma Focused Therapy and Play Therapy.
As a psychologist I often hear "no one can help because no one understands!". Sometimes people feel overwhelmed and alone in the pain, fear and uncertainty. When chaos and crises are your daily reality, how do you manage? When you keep thinking about the horrible things that did or could happen, how do you stop? When you don't want to get up in the morning, how do you face the day? Honestly, I don't have all the answers but I have personally seen people find joy despite ongoing sorrow and I have seen tears and smiles coexist. I believe that with the right support, all people can explore how to find a sense of calm within the storm.
(587) 602-1020 View (587) 602-1020
Photo of Rachel Dundas, Psychologist in Calgary, AB
Rachel Dundas
Psychologist, R Psych, RCC, CPT-S
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T2G
I am a Certified Trauma Practitioner, Certified EMDR Therapist, Certified Play Therapist Supervisor (CPT-S) and work with all clients from a trauma and attachment focused lens.
I am an empathetic and compassionate therapist. I have dedicated my life to supporting others on their journey and I am honoured to do this work. My approach helps clients discover blocks in their lives, identify memories they have not yet processed, and building skills to help them regulate on the path towards healing. I work from a wide variety of modalities- psychedelic therapy, internal family systems (IFS), expressive arts, EMDR and mindfulness based skills training. I am available for consultation for agency or corporate clients and supervision/consultation for provisional psychologists and aspiring play therapists.
I am a Certified Trauma Practitioner, Certified EMDR Therapist, Certified Play Therapist Supervisor (CPT-S) and work with all clients from a trauma and attachment focused lens.
I am an empathetic and compassionate therapist. I have dedicated my life to supporting others on their journey and I am honoured to do this work. My approach helps clients discover blocks in their lives, identify memories they have not yet processed, and building skills to help them regulate on the path towards healing. I work from a wide variety of modalities- psychedelic therapy, internal family systems (IFS), expressive arts, EMDR and mindfulness based skills training. I am available for consultation for agency or corporate clients and supervision/consultation for provisional psychologists and aspiring play therapists.
(587) 871-0374 View (587) 871-0374
Photo of Denise Lynn Davies, Registered Social Worker in Calgary, AB
Denise Lynn Davies
Registered Social Worker, MC, BSW, RSW
Verified
1 Endorsed
Calgary, AB T3G
I have extensive experience using the modalities of play therapy, CBT, DBT, ART, and Polyvagal Theory which provides a unique experience for clients.
Working with children and families for over 24 years, it has been my life’s work to help others find peace, healing, and joy in their lives. It takes courage for individuals and families to reach out for support and I am honored to be a part of your healing experience.
I have extensive experience using the modalities of play therapy, CBT, DBT, ART, and Polyvagal Theory which provides a unique experience for clients.
Working with children and families for over 24 years, it has been my life’s work to help others find peace, healing, and joy in their lives. It takes courage for individuals and families to reach out for support and I am honored to be a part of your healing experience.
(825) 606-5451 View (825) 606-5451

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Play Therapy Counsellors

Who is play therapy for?

Play therapy is generally targeted to children between the ages of 3 and 11 who have social, emotional, or behavioural difficulties. Play therapy has also been found helpful for children who have experienced physical or emotional abuse or witnessed atrocities. Play therapy is also often recommended for children who are undergoing major medical procedures or who are suffering from chronic illness; many children’s hospitals are equipped to offer play therapy on-site. Play therapy is also sometimes used for adults; creative writing, music, and art are expressive forms that can all be adapted for therapeutic purposes.

Why do people need play therapy?

Children often do not have the language skills or words to know or to express what is troubling them. Yet they often spontaneously draw or use playthings to depict scenarios that reflect problems in their everyday life. Play therapy provides children with an array of objects and play situations to act out their feelings or experiences so that therapists can get a clear picture of what children might be struggling with and help them find solutions. In addition, play therapists are skilled at helping children understand their inner experience and find words for them, necessary steps toward helping children learn to control their own behaviour and come up with solutions to problems they encounter.

What happens in play therapy?

A child enters a comfortable playroom where they are free to choose the objects they want to play with. The play therapist will typically observe how they play with the toys—whether a sandbox, puppets, dolls and action figures, trucks, costumes, drawing and painting materials, or more—because such play provides clues to a child’s family and social relationships, difficulties they are encountering in the world, and what going on inside themselves. Sometimes the therapist may ask the child to use the play objects to tell a story about their family. Using the same instruments of play, therapists can help children discover more advantageous ways of thinking and behaving.

What kinds of problems do play therapists treat?

Play therapy can help children who display destructive or self-destructive impulses; children who seem angry, sad, or fearful; children who experience frequent social, emotional, family, or school difficulty. Play therapy is often of value to children who have experienced a loss or distressing family experience, who are regularly exposed to family conflict, or who have been physically or emotionally abused. Play therapy can help children who are perpetrators of bullying as well as those who are targets of bullying. It helps children learn to identify their feelings, to express them in constructive ways, and to regulate them so they can get on with the business of development.

How long does play therapy last?

Play therapy sessions may last for 30 to 45 minutes, and they usually occur weekly for about 20 sessions. Each session is tailored to the individual child and the kinds of problems they are struggling with. Play that is highly repetitive often indicates a problem requiring further exploration. Therapists typically measure progress through session-to-session changes in play behaviour.