Play Therapy Activities
What is play therapy?
Play therapy is a type of therapy that involves playing and utilizes many different play therapy activities. The Association for Play Therapy (APT) defines play therapy as:
“the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development” (Association for Play Therapy).
Or put more simply, “child play therapy is a way of being with the child that honors their unique developmental level and looks for ways of helping in the “language” of the child – play”. (Association for Play Therapy).
At the Academy for Play Therapy Training, we know that using play therapy and play therapy activities are extremely effective for children, teens, adults, couples, and families. They can help aide in the treatment of many different disorders, challenges, or concerns such as:
- Anger issues
- Grief and loss
- Divorce and/or family stress
- Anxiety and depression
- Developmental delays
- Learning or attention problems (such as ADHD)
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Being the victim of bullying or bullying other children
- Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Overly aggressive behavior
- Sudden changes in appetite
- Insomnia or increased sleepiness
- Excessive school absenteeism or tardiness
- Mood swings
- Signs of alcohol, drug, or other substance use
- Separation, divorce, or relocation
What play therapy activities are most effective?
There are many different play therapy activities that therapists can use with their patients, and the most effective ones will depend on the child they are working with. Play therapy activities that provide children the safety and structure necessary for them to be able to communicate their feelings and what is happening in their inner world include, but are not limited to: sandtray therapy, imaginary play, role playing, puppet/doll play, storytelling and metaphors, games, and creative arts such as drawing.
The premise of play therapy techniques such as child centered play therapy (CCPT) is that play is the language of children, that growth and healing develop from fully and completely accepting the child exactly as she or he is and that safety and structure are essential ingredients. Play therapy for children not only allows patients to connect to and express their emotions, but also allows the therapist to gain a full understanding of what is going on with the child.
At The Academy for Play Therapy Training, we offer a range of workshops approved by the Association for Play Therapy (Academy for Play Therapy Training, Mary Ruth Cross, APT Approved Provider #18-544) that count towards the 150 continuing education credits needed to become a registered play therapist. We offer introductory level workshops, such as “Are you kidding? An Introduction to Play Therapy,” which explores the history, theories and components of play therapy as a model to work therapeutically with children, adolescents and families. We also offer more advanced workshops where participants learn specific play therapy activities, such as sandtray therapy, where participants learn how to incorporate the use of sand and miniatures in order to explore the client’s internal world and help them work through issues.
Are play therapy activities just for children?
No! Patients from all age groups can benefit from incorporating play therapy techniques into their therapy sessions. Every child and adult likes to play, and play therapy activities offer a way for patients to express themselves in different ways no matter what their age. In fact, research shows that play is a vital part of everyone’s life. If you are a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist or Couples Counselor, we offer a workshop just for you titled, “ Playfully Connecting: Integrating Play into Couples Counseling,” facilitated by co-founder of The Academy for Play Therapy Training Leslie Baker. In this advanced workshop, Leslie teaches participants to understand how to decrease conflict and improve outcomes through playful interventions that target specific couples’ problems.
When you are ready to learn more about any of our play therapy training programs, including our play therapy programs, play therapy continuing education workshops, or play therapist certification, please contact the Academy for Play Therapy Training at 925-626-0084. You may also review our play therapy continuing education and play therapy workshops here on our website. You will find a list of our classes, including a look at our upcoming play therapy trainings, conferences, and workshops. We look forward to hearing from you soon and answering any questions you may have about play therapy and play therapy training!