Talk therapy is facilitated exploration through discussion and play therapy is facilitated exploration through play. Children’s main method of communication is through play. In the play therapy interactions and space (similarly to the talk therapy space), there is:
Unconditional positive regard (to accept, to appreciate, to see the good in each child unconditionally. The relationship is fundamental to the process);
Safety (with rare exception what the child shares is private and stays in the room. Therapists will facilitate safe exploration);
Deliberate focus (to enact close attention to what the child does/says, trying to both understand the child better and help the child reach further understanding of the self);
A commitment to helping the child move forward (through actively looking for ways to help the child grow through his/her own experience);
A particular kind of environment (carefully selected toys, sandtray, books and art materials to encourage sharing and organized and to provide structure).
Adults and teenagers learn through facilitated discussion, but young children lack the insight and language to discuss feelings, problems and experiences. Therapeutic play assists children to share about problems and concerns, make sense of their world and work through confusion and emotional difficulty. Counsellors will assist your child in sharing his/her inner experiences while carefully observing, reflecting and encouraging your child to create a healthier story.
Holistic expressive play therapy is researched to be effective in assisting children who:
experience difficult life transitions, changes, illness;
This form of therapy is either child led or directive and will sometimes incorporate the family system in some way. Adaptive change for children is most recognizable when their primary relationships, often the family/caregivers, can also incorporate new positive skills, changes, understanding and attunement.