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Play Therapy isn’t just for children: we all deserve the freedom to play

By: Crystal Roskam, M. Ed., ALC, a therapist with STRIVE Counseling Services, LLC

What is play therapy?

Play Therapy is defined by Association of Play Therapy (APT) as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.” Simply put in play therapy the child and therapist interact with the utilization of toys, games, and activities to develop coping skills and express themselves emotionally.

How does it help a child?

Children often have a difficult time expressing their emotions and they especially find it hard to comprehend how to discuss their experiences. Children express themselves through play without even thinking about it. Play Therapy techniques enable them to have the freedom to choose how and when they express the need for emotional and behavioral support. For example, children role-play with dolls/toys/stuffed animals and express their thoughts on a behavioral situation with a friend on the playground or a sibling/parent in their home. This can allow a therapist to model various alternative behaviors or emotional responses for the child to practice in their daily life.

How does it help an adolescent?

Similar to children, adolescents find it difficult to express difficulties they are facing in their interpersonal relationships with peers, friends, or family members. Adolescence is full of many changes and challenges. Therapy in general can be awkward for a teenager, it is important to build trust and comfort in

the therapy setting. Play Therapy techniques allow an adolescent to feel they are placing their focus on their activity, enabling them to not feel they are the complete focus of attention in therapy. The therapist can be fully present with them and in-the-moment with the adolescent during the activity and help them to feel comfortable with discussing something that may be hard to talk about.

How can it help an adult?

Some adults find worksheets and activities to be easy ways to model or express emotions or outline particular topics discussed in therapy. Role playing techniques can be easy ways for adults to model difficult conversations and work towards practicing appropriate techniques. Adults with some mental health concerns can approach play therapy techniques with more ease than traditional therapy techniques. It can also be helpful for adults to learn Play Therapy techniques to utilize with helping their relationship with their child.

What is next?

No matter where you are in life, Play Therapy can benefit you. Therapy is work, why not make it fun? Contact Crystal Roskam, M. Ed., ALC at STRIVE Counseling Services to inquire about setting an appointment or if you have questions about Play Therapy techniques. We are offering discounted rates for 5 sessions at 20% off! | 205.721.9893 ext. 104

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