Play therapy is an effective technique for helping children who need to be treated for behavioral problems. It's also good for those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or autism. It's often used for children who have been the victims of abuse too. They're able to express themselves through play when not able to verbally express various emotions. The type of play is aimed towards developing certain skills as well as allowing a form of expression. It should be appropriate for their age level.
Creative Play for Expressing Emotions
Creating with an artistic medium is a great way to allow a child to express feelings and emotions. Drawing and painting allow the child to get in touch with emotions that might be deep inside. The drawing or painting doesn't have to be free play. The therapist might ask the child to draw a specific image or feeling, which is a way for the therapist to direct the play.
Developing Social Skills
In order to make friends, children have to learn how to relate to others. This includes learning skills that will help a child be assertive, less aggressive or understand boundaries. All children need to learn that their behavior has consequences, and that can be achieved through imaginative play that reinforces the importance of social skills. The therapist can introduce dolls, puppets or other cloth toys that represent people or other children to replicate social situations during role play.
Building Self Esteem
Play therapy doesn't always need to expose an emotion, but it might need to build one within the child. This can be done with drawing or other activities that generate a sense of independence and self esteem. The drawing activity could be directed play where the therapist asks the child to draw an accomplishment. Games where the child can excel are also a great way to generate self esteem through success.
The therapist will have to decide where the child needs the extra help to direct the kind of play they will use. It helps with the play is something the child loves to do. For some that may include drawing while others respond better through playing with toys. Role play and imaginary play is a great way for a child to distance himself from the emotions and tell a story that allows him to take a step back from the pain.
Dealing with Grief from a Loss
Grief is a painful, raw emotion that is harder for children to deal with when asked direct questions. Drawing is a successful method for many skill building and is good for dealing with grief. Therapists can also use clay to allow the child to express difficult emotions. They can direct the child to smooth the clay, punch it to release their anger or express frustration by stretching and ripping it.
Whether it's directed play or non-directed play, the therapist can identify problems with the child as well as figure out ways to help them express problems. It's effective for building self esteem as well as reinforcing social skills.