Imagine being angry, but when asked to describe how you're feeling, you could not use the word "angry." For children, toys are their words, and not giving them an opportunity to play out their feelings with toys is like taking away their words right before asking them to describe how they feel. Where adults use words, children use play to communicate and make sense of the world around them. As a result, I use a variety of play-based techniques to allow children to explore ways to handle challenges, transitions and feelings -- at their own developmental level & in their own language.
WHAT IS PLAY THERAPY?
Whereas adults express themselves through words, children communicate through play. In essence, play is the "language" of children. Play therapy utilizes this concept and allows children to communicate and work through issues at their own pace. Careful observation and subtle guidance of the play by the therapist allows the child to explore their inner-struggles and make sense of the world around them while building coping mechanisms in the process!
Dr. Eliana Gil states that play therapy allows children (and adults alike!) to "broaden their communication and show themselves more fully by externalizing worries and concerns through symbols, metaphor, or metaphor language." Gil also pints out the benefits of integrating play into family therapy by stating: "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."
Dr. Gil has served as a great inspiration for me as a play therapist! To visit her website, please visit: www.ElianaGil.com