Play therapy is an approach to counseling that was originally designed for use with children, and has shown to be beneficial for adolescents and adults as well. The basic principle of play therapy is that, due to development and minimal life experience, children are better able to express the things on their minds through the context of play. Adolescents and adults find it helpful as well because traumatic life experiences can make finding words to express their thoughts and feelings difficult.
There are many different approaches to play therapy. The play therapists at Fircrest Behavioral Health utilize Child Centered Play Therapy (CCPT), which is non-directive in nature, and holds the core belief that children know what they need and will use the therapeutic space to express that need and process their thoughts and feelings effectively. The therapist helps the child to develop language for what they are feeling, sets limits as needed, and follows through on the natural consequences of choices. In CCPT children are able to process distressing experiences, develop emotion regulation skills, build frustration tolerance, and learn to not only accept limits from others but also to set limits on themselves. Additionally, they build self confidence, learn to take responsibility for their choices, and much more.
Another approach to play therapy that is not only used with children, but often used with adolescents and adults, is called Sandtray Therapy. In Sandtray Therapy the client is able to utilize miniature figures to express and process their thoughts and bypass the limitations that language can unintentionally set. Sandtray Therapy can be a great way for someone to process trauma and/or overwhelming and intense feelings, develop a deeper understanding of the self, and can even be used to help couples and families to better understand one another.