Play Therapy for Children

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.

How Does Play Therapy Work?

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.


The child is introduced to fun toys and activities that they enjoy engaging with.


The play therapist observes the child at play to determine areas of concern.


Knowing the areas of concern, the play therapist can plan the treatment approach.

Learn Tools

The play therapist shares suggestions for how to help the child at-home and in school.

How is Play Therapy used to assess and diagnose?

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.

During these sessions, counsellors may examine the following scenarios:
  • How one plays with dolls in a familial context
  • How they openly interact with the counsellor
  • What behaviours does the client reenact when they play pretend
  • How well a client takes direction from the counsellor
  • And how quickly trust is built between the counsellor and the client
All of these patterns and observations communicate to the counsellor what the child is feeling. It can tell them the nature of their home life, their relationship with adults, what the child perceives as normal behaviours, how well one interacts with adults, and how quickly they are to trust. On top of this, counsellors will also employ other diagnostic methods to get a better picture of what the client is really feeling.

Play Therapists

Alison Statham
Virtual & In-Person

Alison Statham

Registered Psychologist
$220 per hour
Alison helps individuals with anxiety, trauma, depression, emotional regulation, social skills, OCD, stress, burnout life transitions, ADHD, panic attacks, & relationship issues.
Shaheena Kassam
Virtual & In-Person

Shaheena Kassam

Registered Psychologist
$220 per hour
Shaheena offers assessments and counselling for children, youths, and their families, as well as adults, to help them with anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other behavioural or social challenges.

Get Matched To The Right Therapist

Not sure who can help you? You can either fill out the form to be matched to a therapist that specializes in your unique situation or give us a call at (403) 588-7639.

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Unit #17 - 620 - 1 Ave NW
Airdrie, AB T4B 2R3


290 Midpark Way SE #330,
Calgary, AB T2X 1P1


2000 Pegasus Rd NE
Calgary, AB T2E 8K7


9426 51 Avenue NW, Suite 201,
Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5A6


4915 54 Street - 3rd Floor
Red Deer, AB T4N 2G7
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