“A therapeutic working relationship with children is best established through play, and the relationship is crucial to the activity we refer to as therapy." (Landreth, 2002:14)
Play therapy creates a safe, contained and trusting environment in which a child can explore their thoughts and feelings verbally or through play and behaviour. The therapeutic process aims to provide an environment in which children can begin to repair some of the painful and damaging feelings and behaviours that are unhelpful to them in day to day life.
Play therapy helps children to process muddled feelings and difficult events or experiences. Some children may re-enact or play out difficult life experineces in order to begin to sort through the feelings associated with the event. The toys and materials act as a metaphor, allowing for a greater sense of safety and distance to the troubeling material which may otherwise be too difficult to face.
Play therapy can also support children to modify unhelpful behaviours, learn to communicate in a more effective way and build more positive relationships. Other benefits include; facilitating emotional literacy, increasing emotional resiliency and support the development of a stronger sense of self.
The therapists’ role is to help the child make sense of the reality of their world to allow for mastery over their feelings and behaviour. For some children it may be beneficial to provide more structure within the therapy in order to support their process.
To ensure the highest quailty of work, regular supervision is undertaken, which is a requirement of The British Association of Play Therapists.