Therapeutic Play

Therapeutic Play

What is therapeutic play?

Therapeutic play provides a safe space for children to explore and heal. This type of therapy is used to gain a complete view of anything that might contribute to a individual’s challenges and ensure everyone is seen as clearly as possible. Therapeutic play is a popular choice for children and even adults to aide in the treatment of many different disorders, challenges, or concerns. For example, therapeutic play can bring relief to those who may be challenged by anger issues, grief and loss, divorce and/or family stress, anxiety and depression, and other long-term mental disorders. Therapists can use play therapy to direct emotion into sessions and play therapy is designed to be a safe outlet that brings relaxation and joy. This treatment plan is often able to help individuals gain more control over symptoms and improve daily life.


What is child centered therapeutic play?

Child centered therapeutic play provides a foundation for child development. Therapy sessions can help boost creativity, improve communication skills, form positive coping mechanisms, and provide a fun, interesting environment for children to grow. There are several play models for children to use and explore during therapy sessions. Because each child is different, it is important for therapists to work with a parent or guardian to find the treatment plan and play model that works best. Play models include sand tray, puppets and masks, and play therapy with animals.


Mary Ruth Cross at the Academy for Play Therapy Training™, we dive into these play models in a course title “Playing Around: Integrating Play Into Child Therapy”. This workshop is great because it helps participants understand the importance of play therapy and how to integrate play therapy techniques into each stage of development. Play interventions will include expressive arts, role-play, puppet play, storytelling, sensory play, games and additional activities great for various developmental stages.


What is therapeutic play in hospitals?

Certain clinical issues and childhood disorders can be addressed with different playful interventions. Therapeutic play during hospital visits or extended hospital stays can help ease emotional duress and provide coping mechanisms for difficult situations.


Do these play therapies really work? 

Although there is no guarantee that therapy will work for everyone in every situation, these play therapies often work. Though it is important to know that having the right therapist is an important part of determining whether or not counseling will work. Individuals must feel safe and comfortable enough to do the work needed to see results.


How else may therapeutic play be helpful?

We live in a colorful world with many different levels of diversity. Play therapists need a clear understanding of diversity in themselves and in their communities so that children and families can feel safe enough to do that deepest work of healing. This is why Mary Ruth Cross at the Academy for Play Therapy Training™ developed a course titled “Who am I? Who Are You? Many Cultures, Many Colors: Diversity in Play Therapy”. By improving diversity understanding and sensitivity, we respect ourselves and others at the deepest levels. This workshop will present a model for understanding ourselves and others as well as effective play therapy strategies and techniques that take diversity issues into account with treatment planning and implementation.


What should I do to learn more?

If you are interested in learning more about therapeutic play, please reach out to our team at the Academy for Play Therapy Training™. Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are an approved provider for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, the Association for Play Therapy, and the American Psychological Association. Mary Ruth Cross an approved to provide play therapy continuing education units to MFT’s, LCSW’s, LPCC’s,and Psychologists. (APT Approved Provider 09-2411 CEs for Marriage & Family Therapists, Licensed Social Workers, Professional Counselors and Psychologists offered through Sierra Institute for Contemporary Gestalt Therapy BBS provider 349 and approved by APA AND Association for Play Therapy -APT Approved Provider 09-241.) We provide these CE through play therapy training events, workshops, play therapy conferences, and specified play therapy continuing education credits. We look forward to hearing from you soon and answering any follow-up questions you might have about therapeutic play! Please contact us at (925)-626-0084 or visit us at We are located at 8 Crow Canyon Court, Suite #207, San Ramon, CA. 94583.