People will ask, “How do you work with children or why do you do play therapy with children?” The answer is that this is what children do… they play. They are unable to understand and talk about their feelings the way adults do, and this then is how to meet their special needs.
Play becomes therapeutic to children as they give expression to their experiences and emotions. They can recreate in play the experiences that are part of their feelings of anger, fears, sadness or frustrations that are currently influencing their behavior. A benefit of play therapy is that children can create therapeutic play at their developmental level. Through the play and the therapy process they create play that resembles the emotional expressions of what they are struggling with internally. The positive way that they work in their play is what they cannot work thru verbally.
What we know about children is that they are not introspective and not problem oriented. Their emotional expression is limited. They are more concrete and specific, and oriented in the here and now. They do not know easily how to delay gratification and have limited understanding that talking about something will help them feel better later. Often in therapy they will choose toys to recreate issues that represent their emotional conflict.
The therapist also chooses specific interventions such as art, clay, or sand play to help the child work thru and understand their troubling experiences. This gives the child a sense of comfort and remains a real benefit in their therapy process. Through the play therapy process, children can change their personal view of experiences in their child world and begin to change their interactions with others. When they play thru their emotional experience and change the expression of that experience in their play, they give a different meaning, often more accepting, that allows for more enjoyment in their life interaction with self and others.