Sometimes, a child counsellor's toolbox and your child’s toy box might overlap. Play therapy is an evidence-based treatment approach that helps young children process, communicate and resolve difficult thoughts, memories, feelings and emotions. The play therapist may incorporate a variety of tools to engage children in the therapeutic process including toys, games, puppets, colouring books, musical instruments and costumes. More than toys and games, it is about working with children to help express themselves in a way that they can understand. The goal is to help the child develop a more positive self-esteem through self-efficacy and improved communication skills.
During play therapy, the child is placed into an inviting environment that is filled with toys, puzzles, puppets, plush toys, and other interactive tools for children. While some situations call for “directive” play therapy during which the play therapist will subtly direct the play, other circumstances may require “non-directive” play – which is when counsellors allow the child to play freely and express themselves. Either way, counsellors observe how the child plays and interacts with their surroundings to determine how to help them socially, developmentally, and psychologically.
Someone in play is at their most candid. This means that in order to assess and diagnose their clients, counsellors will carefully observe them in this state. It also allows for those who are unable to talk about what’s on their mind to communicate it through how they interact with their environment.