What is Play Therapy?

Children problem solve and express themselves through play. Play therapy is a therapeutic process facilitated by a therapist trained in the techniques of play therapy. In a play therapy process, children are provided with a range of materials and toys that can be used to express and explore feelings and experiences through play. In a safe and therapeutic environment a child can "play out " his or her feelings and concerns, often recreating, literally and symbolically, a conflict, painful experience, or struggle he or she is facing or have faced.

For children who have been traumatized or have experienced stressful events or other difficulties, play and art therapy safely offer immediate and sensory experiences that can allow the children to access the trauma and tell the story of the traumatic or troubling event. In a play and art therapy process, children can externalize, rather than internalize, the trauma, enabling them to process the events, re-tell the trauma story until they are done with it, resulting in feelings of understanding and self-acceptance, self-control and reduced stress.

Art therapy, the companion to play therapy, and sandplay therapy are two specific techniques that I make available to children in my playroom that add depth to a play therapy process. It is important that a wide range of play and art materials be made available. The materials and toys that are chosen, and how they are used by a child, allow important themes and stories to emerge.


Can your child benefit from Play and Art Therapy?

Children who are anxious or depressed are good candidates for play and art therapy. Additionally, any child who is having self esteem issues, struggling socially, struggling in school, is in a family going through a divorce, has had a traumatic experience, or is highly sensitive can benefit.

Children do not fully engage in abstract thinking or reasoning until approximately 11 years of age. Also, children are also not fully able to verbalize their feelings. Play and art therapy provide the symbolic processes that can allow a child to fully express and explore whatever stresses they are currently encountering. Thus, the material a child can reveal through play and art therapy can give parents special insight into their child's struggle in a way that conversation alone cannot.

Contact me to talk further about how play and art therapy could benefit your child.

At my Santa Cruz office, conveniently located between downtown Santa Cruz and the Seabright area, I offer couples therapy and individual and family counseling and therapy. I also specialize in child therapy, including art and play therapy

Please call 831-423-7027 to schedule an appointment or discuss your specific needs.

The images on this site are from "The Lost Star" children's book I am currently writing, and were taken by Michael Strong.