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What is Play Therapy?

"Toys are children's words and play is their language." - Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship by Garry Landreth

Room filled with children's toys to use in play therapy to address mental health issues

As defined by the Association for Play Therapy (APT), Play Therapy is "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."

But what does that all really mean and how can play therapy be helpful for you and your family?

Play therapy includes... wait for it... play!! However, it is not just playing. Play therapists strategically utilize treatment methods to increase adaptive behaviors and process life's challenges. Play therapy has a large number of treatment methods that all work to address therapy goals and achieve therapeutic benefits. Play therapy begins by fostering a foundation where the child can communicate from where they are. I have yet to see a three, four, five, heck, nine year old come into my office and say, "Alex, I have it all figured out. See I hit my brother because he triggers me to feel sad." Kids just don't do this. In fact, most adults don't do this! Children communicate through play, whether this is with paint, puppets,

legos with the text "play therapy: what is it & is it right for you?"

books or another medium. Play therapy is different from regular play in that it helps kids learn about themselves, solve their problems, and understand the world around them. Through therapeutic play children can learn to problem solve, communicate and connect with others effectively, express their emotions appropriately, and make behavioral changes. Play also gives distance to the child's problems/concerns/emotions, which makes addressing them feel safer.

Usually play therapy is used with children ages three through twelve years of age. However, play therapy with teens and adults can be effective and beneficial as well! It is likely that play can be beneficial to all -- I mean, who doesn't love unleashing their inner child through play? -- Research has found that play can help reduce stress, provide a safe space to practice new skills, foster creative thinking, connect us to others, and improve our self-perception (Landreth, 2002).

So what is everyone waiting for!? Get ready to let your imagination run wild and get your creative juices flow... all for the sake of therapeutic benefit of course! Click here to find a play therapist for your child, family or yourself who can help you reach your goals strategically through play. To learn more about play therapy or how you can become a registered play therapist, check out the Association for Play Therapy.

Don't forget to check out Andrew in the video below! I mean what an amazing kid right?! Almost too good to be true ;P



  1. Association for Play Therapy. (2018, August 1). About APT. Retrieved from

  2. Landreth, G. L. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship. New York, NY: Brunner-Ruttledge.


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