by Erika Hitge Play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all applying the therapeutic benefits of play. Through play therapy children learn to communicate with and relate to others, express feelings, modify behaviour and develop problem-solving skills. In play therapy, toys are the child’s words and play is the child’s language. Play therapy is utilised to intervene in mental health conditions and concerns like anger management, grief and loss, divorce and family dissolution, crisis and trauma, and for modification of behavioural problems associated with anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism or pervasive, academic and social developmental disorders, physical and learning disabilities and conduct disorders. Play therapy is very effective when children’s problems are related to life stressors such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalisation, chronic illness, stressful experiences, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, domestic violence and natural disasters. Birds fly, fish swim, children play… Play therapy is based upon the fact that play is the child’s natural medium of self expression. It provides an opportunity for the child to ‘play out’ feelings and problems. Play therapy includes art, drama, music, body work, bibliotherapy (reading and / or developing therapeutic stories and / or poetry) and sensory work and has therefore become a popular method of providing therapy to children and adults alike. Foundations of the techniques are based in psycho-analysis, especially gestalt therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy and positive psychology and is phenomenological and relational by nature.
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