Play Therapy in Vancouver, WA

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Photo of SensoriWorks , Clinical Social Work/Therapist in Vancouver, WA
SensoriWorks
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LICSW, CSWA, CADCIII, LAC
Verified
Vancouver, WA 98684
When someone in your family is suffering, finding the right help is so important! I work with children, teens and adults to get back into balance and become consciously embodied, through somatic therapy and coaching. We'll work together to develop a consistent mental, physical and emotional self care system that is really effective to expand your bandwidth in life, have more capacity for joy and play, strive for goals and practice thriving!
When someone in your family is suffering, finding the right help is so important! I work with children, teens and adults to get back into balance and become consciously embodied, through somatic therapy and coaching. We'll work together to develop a consistent mental, physical and emotional self care system that is really effective to expand your bandwidth in life, have more capacity for joy and play, strive for goals and practice thriving!
(360) 930-6688 View (360) 930-6688
Photo of Kristina Hargie, Marriage & Family Therapist in Vancouver, WA
Kristina Hargie
Marriage & Family Therapist, LMFT
Verified
1 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98662
Believing in the importance of integrating the mind and body, I use an integrated approach using movement, play therapy, mindfulness, cognitive behavior therapy, solution focused therapy, and creative arts.
Welcome! Being a parent can be difficult but also a joyful and memorable experience. I provide a safe, nurturing space for children 3-12 to develop skills for identifying, expressing, and managing big emotions. I believe parents play a very important role in their child's lives but also in therapy. Often, a combination of family therapy sessions with and without child is recommended, to provide space for parents to learn and practice skills and strategies to use with their young child.
Believing in the importance of integrating the mind and body, I use an integrated approach using movement, play therapy, mindfulness, cognitive behavior therapy, solution focused therapy, and creative arts.
Welcome! Being a parent can be difficult but also a joyful and memorable experience. I provide a safe, nurturing space for children 3-12 to develop skills for identifying, expressing, and managing big emotions. I believe parents play a very important role in their child's lives but also in therapy. Often, a combination of family therapy sessions with and without child is recommended, to provide space for parents to learn and practice skills and strategies to use with their young child.
(360) 347-9740 View (360) 347-9740
Photo of Alyssa M. Purk, Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Alyssa M. Purk
Counselor, MEd, MHCA
Verified
Vancouver, WA 98660
I also utilize play therapy for younger clients.
By living meaningfully in the present you can learn to break free from past experiences, trauma, and concerns for the future. Living with intention encourages you to act with purpose and passion for your own benefit and the benefit of society. Trauma, stress, fear, depression, and anxiety can be debilitating. If you are reading this you have recognized that either you or someone you care about may need help navigating the unprecedented life events. As your counselor, I want to help you explore who you are, find what is meaningful to you, and assist you in learning the tools that will help you live life to the fullest.
I also utilize play therapy for younger clients.
By living meaningfully in the present you can learn to break free from past experiences, trauma, and concerns for the future. Living with intention encourages you to act with purpose and passion for your own benefit and the benefit of society. Trauma, stress, fear, depression, and anxiety can be debilitating. If you are reading this you have recognized that either you or someone you care about may need help navigating the unprecedented life events. As your counselor, I want to help you explore who you are, find what is meaningful to you, and assist you in learning the tools that will help you live life to the fullest.
(360) 276-6153 View (360) 276-6153
Photo of Susan (Sue) M Bernt, Clinical Social Work/Therapist in Vancouver, WA
Susan (Sue) M Bernt
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LICSW, LCSW
Verified
1 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98682  (Online Only)
Play therapy is a mental health, educational, or developmental intervention designed to help children grow as happy and well-adjusted as possible.
I am telehealth only at this time. I specialize working with adults, teens, and children (6 + ) and their families. Together we can work on relationships, behavior challenges, depression, stress and anxiety problems, self worth, and trauma. I have a great interactive internet based/HIPPA safe video platform to use with children. Play in therapy allows children to communicate and learn to solve problems and change their negative behaviors. I work with adults to assist in processing unexpected life situations. Theories used in treatment: Developmental Psychotherapy, Psychoeducation, Attachment, Person-Centered,
Play therapy is a mental health, educational, or developmental intervention designed to help children grow as happy and well-adjusted as possible.
I am telehealth only at this time. I specialize working with adults, teens, and children (6 + ) and their families. Together we can work on relationships, behavior challenges, depression, stress and anxiety problems, self worth, and trauma. I have a great interactive internet based/HIPPA safe video platform to use with children. Play in therapy allows children to communicate and learn to solve problems and change their negative behaviors. I work with adults to assist in processing unexpected life situations. Theories used in treatment: Developmental Psychotherapy, Psychoeducation, Attachment, Person-Centered,
(503) 822-6579 View (503) 822-6579
Photo of Jamie Califf, Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Jamie Califf
Counselor, MA, LMHC, NCC
Verified
Vancouver, WA 98686
I am committed to offering empathic rapport, evidenced based approaches, and meeting each individual right where they are. This includes integrating each individual's personal, spiritual, and cultural perspectives and experiences, at their request. I work with older kids, teens, young adults, and individual adults, seeking solutions for a variety of concerns including: depression, anxiety, stress management, trauma, communication, and relationships. I have received additional training in expressive therapies including play therapy and sand tray therapy.
I am committed to offering empathic rapport, evidenced based approaches, and meeting each individual right where they are. This includes integrating each individual's personal, spiritual, and cultural perspectives and experiences, at their request. I work with older kids, teens, young adults, and individual adults, seeking solutions for a variety of concerns including: depression, anxiety, stress management, trauma, communication, and relationships. I have received additional training in expressive therapies including play therapy and sand tray therapy.
(360) 558-3147 View (360) 558-3147
Photo of Aspire Behavioral Health, Michelle Newton, Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Aspire Behavioral Health, Michelle Newton
Counselor, MA, MFT, LMHC, CMHS, QMHP
Verified
3 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98662
Focus on: communication; couples therapy; family therapy; individual therapy; Trauma & PTSD; anxiety; fear; depression; human sexuality & gender (LGBTQ); sand tray, art and play therapy; skill building for children & adults with Autism and Asperger's; reducing and eliminating explosive episodes & self-harm behaviors; drug & alcohol.
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". With over 18 years in the field, I am an experienced clinician. Challenges in your relationship as a couple, dealing with an explosive child or teenager, depression, anxiety, trauma, and struggling to have a healthier, happier relationship as a couple, family or individual? Here's where you can take your first step. There is hope and things can change. I am a down-to-earth therapist with a warm and caring nature. I provide an empathetic and safe place where you can be yourself without fear of judgment.
Focus on: communication; couples therapy; family therapy; individual therapy; Trauma & PTSD; anxiety; fear; depression; human sexuality & gender (LGBTQ); sand tray, art and play therapy; skill building for children & adults with Autism and Asperger's; reducing and eliminating explosive episodes & self-harm behaviors; drug & alcohol.
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". With over 18 years in the field, I am an experienced clinician. Challenges in your relationship as a couple, dealing with an explosive child or teenager, depression, anxiety, trauma, and struggling to have a healthier, happier relationship as a couple, family or individual? Here's where you can take your first step. There is hope and things can change. I am a down-to-earth therapist with a warm and caring nature. I provide an empathetic and safe place where you can be yourself without fear of judgment.
(360) 633-2300 View (360) 633-2300
Photo of Hannah G Martin, Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Hannah G Martin
Counselor, LMHC, NCC
Verified
1 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98684
Waitlist for new clients
This includes talk-based therapy for adults/teens and play-based therapy for children.
I am passionate about helping individuals and families who are feeling stuck, experiencing crisis, or feel burned out. Using a trauma-informed approach, I work with clients to address the areas of pain in their story in order to heal and experience freedom. I enjoy working with all types of clients and primarily have worked with teens, adults, parents, and children. I work with people facing loss, stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma symptoms.
This includes talk-based therapy for adults/teens and play-based therapy for children.
I am passionate about helping individuals and families who are feeling stuck, experiencing crisis, or feel burned out. Using a trauma-informed approach, I work with clients to address the areas of pain in their story in order to heal and experience freedom. I enjoy working with all types of clients and primarily have worked with teens, adults, parents, and children. I work with people facing loss, stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma symptoms.
(360) 347-2508 View (360) 347-2508
Photo of Michelle Tennant, Marriage & Family Therapist in Vancouver, WA
Michelle Tennant
Marriage & Family Therapist, LMFT
Verified
Vancouver, WA 98662
Interventions may include family of origin, trauma-focused cognitive behavior, solution focused, art and play therapy as well as other theoretical models.
I have a passion for helping others and offer a compassionate, safe space to help you work towards positive change. My work from a strengths-based perspective helps you recognize your strengths. Your strengths are how you have managed life as you know it. We will work together towards a solution that feels best to you. I believe we are all stronger than we know and sometimes things just get in the way. We can take time to understand the patterns that have been created in your life. While we can’t change the past, knowing your story can help you move forward.
Interventions may include family of origin, trauma-focused cognitive behavior, solution focused, art and play therapy as well as other theoretical models.
I have a passion for helping others and offer a compassionate, safe space to help you work towards positive change. My work from a strengths-based perspective helps you recognize your strengths. Your strengths are how you have managed life as you know it. We will work together towards a solution that feels best to you. I believe we are all stronger than we know and sometimes things just get in the way. We can take time to understand the patterns that have been created in your life. While we can’t change the past, knowing your story can help you move forward.
(360) 997-2356 View (360) 997-2356
Photo of Peregrine Counseling Services, Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Peregrine Counseling Services
Counselor, LMHC
Verified
1 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98682
Waitlist for new clients
With children and adolescents, I have found that play therapy and art therapy can be extremely helpful in facilitating the healing process.
With seventeen years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults, I have worked in schools, residential treatment centers, and outpatient settings, as well as on-site, in-home, and community locations. I enjoy working with all ages and specialize in children's mental health. My role as a therapist includes offering you (or you and your child, or your family) active listening, reflection, encouragement, helpful challenges, and constructive feedback. I use a positive relationship to support you or your child as you explore and express yourself.
With children and adolescents, I have found that play therapy and art therapy can be extremely helpful in facilitating the healing process.
With seventeen years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults, I have worked in schools, residential treatment centers, and outpatient settings, as well as on-site, in-home, and community locations. I enjoy working with all ages and specialize in children's mental health. My role as a therapist includes offering you (or you and your child, or your family) active listening, reflection, encouragement, helpful challenges, and constructive feedback. I use a positive relationship to support you or your child as you explore and express yourself.
(360) 529-5174 View (360) 529-5174
Photo of Sarah Hart, Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Sarah Hart
Counselor, LMHC
Verified
3 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98662
Waitlist for new clients
I work with individuals and families of all ages, using talk therapy as well as sandtray and play therapy.
Sometimes words cannot do justice to what you are thinking and feeling, or what you have experienced. The limitations of language and the filters of social rules may make it difficult to tell your story in a way that helps you to feel understood. You may even feel like your story is not worth telling. Your experiences, for better or for worse, have shaped who you are today, but they do not have to define you. My goal as a therapist is to come along side you to help you make sense of your thoughts and experiences, to find strength and resilience in the face of tragedy and pain, and to find hope for the future.
I work with individuals and families of all ages, using talk therapy as well as sandtray and play therapy.
Sometimes words cannot do justice to what you are thinking and feeling, or what you have experienced. The limitations of language and the filters of social rules may make it difficult to tell your story in a way that helps you to feel understood. You may even feel like your story is not worth telling. Your experiences, for better or for worse, have shaped who you are today, but they do not have to define you. My goal as a therapist is to come along side you to help you make sense of your thoughts and experiences, to find strength and resilience in the face of tragedy and pain, and to find hope for the future.
(360) 953-5005 View (360) 953-5005
Photo of Jenny Sites, Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Jenny Sites
Counselor, MA, LMHC, NCC
Verified
5 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98661
With children I primarily utilize play therapy, narrative and expressive interventions, and parent skills training.
One of the beautiful things about counseling is having the privilege to hear individual's stories. Each therapeutic interaction presents with unique history, strengths, and concerns. I operate primarily from an Interpersonal orientation which looks at the counseling relationship as a "safe haven" to facilitate the change each client desires. I believe that relationship - with self and with others - heals. I strive to hold space and actively participate with each client desiring change, counseling and working toward congruence of body, mind and spirit.
With children I primarily utilize play therapy, narrative and expressive interventions, and parent skills training.
One of the beautiful things about counseling is having the privilege to hear individual's stories. Each therapeutic interaction presents with unique history, strengths, and concerns. I operate primarily from an Interpersonal orientation which looks at the counseling relationship as a "safe haven" to facilitate the change each client desires. I believe that relationship - with self and with others - heals. I strive to hold space and actively participate with each client desiring change, counseling and working toward congruence of body, mind and spirit.
(360) 499-0765 View (360) 499-0765
Photo of Julie A Russell, Mental Health Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Julie A Russell
Mental Health Counselor, MA, LMFT, LPC, LMHC
Verified
3 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98662
I specialize in couples, children, teens and individuals. I believe that everyone can reach an optimum state of health, counseling helps individuals and families reach healthy functioning in their relationships with others. I employ an integrative approach with a strong reliance on cognitive-behavioral aspects, emotion focused therapy, solution focused therapy, as well as some Jungian methods, such as sand tray therapy, and child centered play therapy. Sand Tray Therapy is a form of expressive therapy. This non-verbal method of therapy is often used with children, but can be applied to adults, teens, couples, families as well.
I specialize in couples, children, teens and individuals. I believe that everyone can reach an optimum state of health, counseling helps individuals and families reach healthy functioning in their relationships with others. I employ an integrative approach with a strong reliance on cognitive-behavioral aspects, emotion focused therapy, solution focused therapy, as well as some Jungian methods, such as sand tray therapy, and child centered play therapy. Sand Tray Therapy is a form of expressive therapy. This non-verbal method of therapy is often used with children, but can be applied to adults, teens, couples, families as well.
(503) 451-6250 View (503) 451-6250
Photo of Playful Healing Counseling, LLC, Clinical Social Work/Therapist in Vancouver, WA
Playful Healing Counseling, LLC
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LICSW, RPT-S
Verified
Vancouver, WA 98660
I enjoy supporting children and families through play therapy, art therapy (and sometimes talk therapy too)! I believe in the resilience and strength of children and their families. I believe that children process the world through play, art and movement as much as, if not more than, they do through words. I believe in the power of play to help children make sense of their experiences and struggles and move toward positive change. I believe in the power of play to help families reconnect and build strong alliances with one another.
I enjoy supporting children and families through play therapy, art therapy (and sometimes talk therapy too)! I believe in the resilience and strength of children and their families. I believe that children process the world through play, art and movement as much as, if not more than, they do through words. I believe in the power of play to help children make sense of their experiences and struggles and move toward positive change. I believe in the power of play to help families reconnect and build strong alliances with one another.
(360) 328-7196 View (360) 328-7196
Photo of Alternative Behavioral Therapy, Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Alternative Behavioral Therapy
Counselor, MA, LMHC, BCN
Verified
3 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98683
Alternative Behavioral Therapy specializes in the integration of talk therapy and Neurofeedback which is commonly used for the treatment and normalization of ADHD. We can incorporate this practice into PTSD, depression, sleep disorders, learning disabilities, anxiety, and much more. For those adept in this field, we practice Infra-low, SMR training, theta/beta ratio, and alpha-theta deep state processing as well as ISF (Infra-slow frequency training). For disorders resulting from trauma, EMDR may be incorporated as deemed appropriate. Other modality options may include Play Therapy or life coaching as well.
Alternative Behavioral Therapy specializes in the integration of talk therapy and Neurofeedback which is commonly used for the treatment and normalization of ADHD. We can incorporate this practice into PTSD, depression, sleep disorders, learning disabilities, anxiety, and much more. For those adept in this field, we practice Infra-low, SMR training, theta/beta ratio, and alpha-theta deep state processing as well as ISF (Infra-slow frequency training). For disorders resulting from trauma, EMDR may be incorporated as deemed appropriate. Other modality options may include Play Therapy or life coaching as well.
(855) 838-3053 View (855) 838-3053
Photo of Stephanie Fox, Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Stephanie Fox
Counselor, MAC, LMHC, NCC, ACA
Verified
3 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98661
With children I use CBT, family systems, play/sand tray therapy, emotion recognition & expression and parent skills training.
Hi! There's a lot of reasons that people come to therapy. Typically, the first time is always the most challenging and scary; you don't know what to expect, you aren’t sure if the therapist is going to pry in to your deepest darkest memories, and you don’t know if you will even like the therapist. Whatever your preexisting ideas are about counseling, it’s ok. I invite your fears and hopes alike. My job as a therapist is to provide a welcoming, safe atmosphere in which you feel comfortable, relaxed and free to talk about whatever it is that’s on your mind, as well as help you gain insight and make positive changes in your life.
With children I use CBT, family systems, play/sand tray therapy, emotion recognition & expression and parent skills training.
Hi! There's a lot of reasons that people come to therapy. Typically, the first time is always the most challenging and scary; you don't know what to expect, you aren’t sure if the therapist is going to pry in to your deepest darkest memories, and you don’t know if you will even like the therapist. Whatever your preexisting ideas are about counseling, it’s ok. I invite your fears and hopes alike. My job as a therapist is to provide a welcoming, safe atmosphere in which you feel comfortable, relaxed and free to talk about whatever it is that’s on your mind, as well as help you gain insight and make positive changes in your life.
(360) 787-4128 View (360) 787-4128
Photo of Molly Callahan, Counselor in Vancouver, WA
Molly Callahan
Counselor, MS, LMHC, DDMHS
Verified
Vancouver, WA 98661
Waitlist for new clients
In my work with children, I use developmentally appropriate modalities, such as play therapy, activity therapy, and expressive arts.
Therapy is a collaborative process of self-discovery and personal growth. I focus on helping my clients through the development of greater self-understanding, self-awareness and self-acceptance. I treat a wide range of clinical issues and invite clients of diverse identities and backgrounds into my therapy practice. I specialize in working with complex and single incident trauma, sexual/relational trauma, anxiety and mood disorders, life transitions, identity exploration, and stress reduction. I have experience working with people across the lifespan, including children ages 3-12, adolescents, and adults in various stages of life.
In my work with children, I use developmentally appropriate modalities, such as play therapy, activity therapy, and expressive arts.
Therapy is a collaborative process of self-discovery and personal growth. I focus on helping my clients through the development of greater self-understanding, self-awareness and self-acceptance. I treat a wide range of clinical issues and invite clients of diverse identities and backgrounds into my therapy practice. I specialize in working with complex and single incident trauma, sexual/relational trauma, anxiety and mood disorders, life transitions, identity exploration, and stress reduction. I have experience working with people across the lifespan, including children ages 3-12, adolescents, and adults in various stages of life.
(360) 226-7556 View (360) 226-7556
Photo of Madeleine Bloch, Clinical Social Work/Therapist in Vancouver, WA
Madeleine Bloch
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MSW, LSWAIC
Verified
Vancouver, WA 98683  (Online Only)
When working with children, I utilize art therapy, play therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), emotion focused therapy, mindfulness, and emotional regulation techniques.
Hello! Welcome to therapy. I’m Madeleine. If you are seeking therapy, you may be struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, family/relationship issues, or perhaps you just need someone to talk to without fear of being judged. I use a collaborative approach and believe that you are the expert in your own life. We will work together to identify any patterns of behavior that you feel are interfering with your life, discuss the ways your family, environment, and society may be reinforcing these, and develop the skills to alter or cope with these patterns more effectively.
When working with children, I utilize art therapy, play therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), emotion focused therapy, mindfulness, and emotional regulation techniques.
Hello! Welcome to therapy. I’m Madeleine. If you are seeking therapy, you may be struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, family/relationship issues, or perhaps you just need someone to talk to without fear of being judged. I use a collaborative approach and believe that you are the expert in your own life. We will work together to identify any patterns of behavior that you feel are interfering with your life, discuss the ways your family, environment, and society may be reinforcing these, and develop the skills to alter or cope with these patterns more effectively.
(206) 208-7081 View (206) 208-7081
Photo of Sharon Picard, Psychologist in Vancouver, WA
Sharon Picard
Psychologist, PhD
Verified
Vancouver, WA 98661
Although it's true that children are resilient, there are times when children and their families need focused support and therapy in order to move forward and reach emotional health and balance. I am a Clinical Psychologist and Registered Play Therapist who uses cognitive-behavioral, play therapy, animal-assisted therapy, art therapy, and mindfulness techniques to help clients achieve better mental health. Having been licensed for sixteen years, I have worked extensively with children who present with anxiety, depression, a history of trauma including post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, grief issues, and behavioral concerns.
Although it's true that children are resilient, there are times when children and their families need focused support and therapy in order to move forward and reach emotional health and balance. I am a Clinical Psychologist and Registered Play Therapist who uses cognitive-behavioral, play therapy, animal-assisted therapy, art therapy, and mindfulness techniques to help clients achieve better mental health. Having been licensed for sixteen years, I have worked extensively with children who present with anxiety, depression, a history of trauma including post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, grief issues, and behavioral concerns.
(808) 346-8101 View (808) 346-8101
Photo of Kat Canada, Clinical Social Work/Therapist in Vancouver, WA
Kat Canada
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW, LICSW
Verified
Vancouver, WA 98683  (Online Only)
I provide psychotherapy to children, teens, and emergent adults using an integrative relational or play-centered approach. I specialize in working young people who are curious about themselves but may feel adrift, alienated, misunderstood, or just tired and angry. For most of us, it makes sense to feel weary, outraged, anxious, or demoralized right now. It does not have to make sense to carry the weight of it alone.
I provide psychotherapy to children, teens, and emergent adults using an integrative relational or play-centered approach. I specialize in working young people who are curious about themselves but may feel adrift, alienated, misunderstood, or just tired and angry. For most of us, it makes sense to feel weary, outraged, anxious, or demoralized right now. It does not have to make sense to carry the weight of it alone.
(503) 744-5409 View (503) 744-5409
Photo of Elisabeth Ramsey, Pre-Licensed Professional in Vancouver, WA
Elisabeth Ramsey
Pre-Licensed Professional
Verified
1 Endorsed
Vancouver, WA 98660
As a compassionate and dedicated mental health counselor, I firmly believe in the profound impact of play and trust in the therapeutic process. My professional journey has led me to develop expertise in working with at-risk populations, including homeless individuals and families. I am also skilled in mentoring and providing outreach services to middle school girls. As a mental health counselor, my focus lies in play therapy, developmental psychology, and alcohol and substance dependence treatment.
As a compassionate and dedicated mental health counselor, I firmly believe in the profound impact of play and trust in the therapeutic process. My professional journey has led me to develop expertise in working with at-risk populations, including homeless individuals and families. I am also skilled in mentoring and providing outreach services to middle school girls. As a mental health counselor, my focus lies in play therapy, developmental psychology, and alcohol and substance dependence treatment.
(360) 818-2773 View (360) 818-2773

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Play Therapy

Who is play therapy for?

Play therapy is generally targeted to children between the ages of 3 and 11 who have social, emotional, or behavioral 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 behavior 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 behavior.