The Benefits of Play Therapy for Children

The child's work is to gain the courage to go back to the frightening thoughts and images of the trauma and explore them in a safer environment when there is a better sense of control. The child must then gain the skills necessary to cope with what may be seen as a frightening world in which to grow up as a healthier adult.

Karp & Butler, 1996

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How Play Therapy Can Help Your Child

The expressive therapies, such as play therapy, allow children and adults to broaden their communication and show themselves more fully by externalizing worries and concerns through symbols, metaphor, or metaphor language. The use of expressive techniques and approaches in the context of therapy relationships ignite creative, resilient energy which can be a powerful agent for insight and change. When families in pain begin to play together, perceptions of each other are changed, communication is accomplished in less direct ways, and individuals experience a decrease in resistance. Through laughter and play, endorphins are released and feelings of well being emerge. Observing and participating with a child in play helps to learn the truth behind behavior. Structuring and guiding parents to play with their children enhances attachment bonds and establishes or renews positive connections.

The Benefits of Play Therapy for Children

Everyone has a calling. Mine was a life-long dedication to working with traumatized children and now, consulting and supervising professionals who provide these critical services. I remain in awe of the reparative process that is ignited in those who sustain injuries. I currently provide training, consult and supervise, publish, and remain current with state of the art practices. I also continue as Senior Clinical Consultant with Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education in Fairfax, VA (www.gilinstitute.com)

Many of my colleagues who work in this field have found it necessary to change professions after enduring the stressors inherent in working with child abuse. I have gained harmony and balance by being a clinician who writes, teaches, supervises, consults, conducts research, and develops programs.

I developed an integrated, prescriptive approach to working with clients that includes individualized assessments which inform and guide the formation of treatment plans. In addition, I maintain a commitment to incorporating evidence-based practices as well as best practice guidelines. I remain vigilant of emerging literature regarding effective treatment outcome studies, promising approaches, and evolving trauma-specific assessment instruments.

I have been gratified to see this integrated approach utilized and expanded by my partners and colleagues at Gil Institute.

Directive and nondirective play therapy allows children and teens to broaden their communication by externalizing worries and concerns through symbols and metaphors. The use of expressive approaches in therapy relationships ignites creative, resilient energy which can be a powerful agent for insight and change. When families in pain begin to play together, perceptions of each other are changed, communication is accomplished in less direct ways, and individuals experience a decrease in resistance. Through laughter and play, endorphins are released and feelings of wellbeing emerge.

But maybe you’re still unsure about asking help.

My child is having difficulties, but is therapy really necessary?
What if I don’t really know what’s going on with my child, but I’m worried?