I recently flew to the Mainland for my grandfather’s funeral. I had not been around my extended family for about 10 years; therefore we spent a lot of time discussing where we are at in life and our careers. When asked what I do I started off by giving the simple answer of I’m a psychotherapist. This answer confused every person I gave it to. Then I switched it to “I do a lot of play therapy.” The response I got was “Play therapy…..what’s that?” I quickly discovered that not only do people have a misperception or lack of understanding of psychotherapy in general they definitely have no idea what play therapy is. So I spent some time thinking about and practicing explaining to my family in simple terms/ideas what I believe play therapy to be. Here’s what I came up with:
Most therapists believe that play is a child’s language; therefore play therapy is an opportunity for the child to play out their thoughts and feelings from the past or present. It provides a safe space for children to feel heard and in control of their lives. I never interrogate a child or attempt to have them meet some preconceived goal for that session. Instead I meet the child where they are at in that moment and help them to process their thoughts and feelings through play.
Play Therapy also often involves the family. My goal is to work myself out of a job. This means that I need to teach/guide the parent to be able to implement some of what I am doing in the play room. I use two main types of play therapy when working with families, theraplay and filial play therapy.
Here’s a picture of some of my toys that I showed my family as well in order to provide them with a simple visual picture of a play room:
Hopefully I educated my family, as well as anyone who reads this in a simple straight forward way what play therapy is and why it benefits children. Play Therapy is an evidenced based practice and if you would like to read more information/research about it click on the resource link of my website.