Play Therapy Techniques

Play Therapy Techniques

There are many play therapy techniques that can be helpful when exploring how to best incorporate play therapy into a therapy session. Play therapy, and these play therapy techniques, help create a safe space for children, adolescents, and adults to play and heal.


At the Academy for Play Therapy Training™, we know that using play therapy is extremely effective. It 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


Play therapy techniques for ADHD or play therapy techniques for anger, for example, are so effective because they provide a foundation for child development and child expression. Play therapy techniques for kids can help boost creativity, improve communication skills, form positive coping mechanisms, and provide a fun, interesting environment. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, play therapy allow a child to express what is going on in his or her world. Because a child often communicates through play rather than through direct conversation with an adult, play therapy is extremely effective in letting a therapist better understand the challenges of an individual child. Play therapy can be used to not only understand a child’s world, but also to help a child grow, develop, and heal.


There are several play therapy ideas that may be used during therapy sessions. Those techniques include but are not limited to:


Sand Tray

Puppets and Masks

Play Therapy with Animals


Sand tray therapy uses toys and characters within a sandbox to encourage a child’s imagination and creativity. Many characters are available, and hundreds of different situations/scenarios can be explored, so that a therapist can more easily connect and communicate with a child. Because children often build relationships with characters more easily or more often than with adults, social anxiety can be worked through by using puppets and masks. Children bond with these characters and the therapist can learn what a child is thinking, or how they view their world, through specific questions and games. While some children connect best with characters, other children connect best with pets. Children can learn emotional regulation, how to build social relationships, and how to treat others through play therapy with animals.


Although we often talk about using play therapy techniques during sessions with children, play therapy is not just for kids! Research shows that play is actually a vital part of everyone’s life! Traditional talk therapy is often used with adults and couples, but the truth is that traditional talk therapy is simply one part of what works. The Academy for Play Therapy Training™ knows that play therapy can be used in many circumstances, including couples counseling. Incorporating ideas from the Gottman method with Certified Gottman Therapist, Leslie Baker MFT, NCC, CGT, one can continue education in play therapy to learn advanced play therapy techniques. These techniques can help decrease conflict and improve outcomes through playful interventions targeting couples’ specific problems.


If you are looking to become certified in the use of play therapy techniques, consider the Academy for Play Therapy Training™. The Academy for Play Therapy Training™ offers many exciting and interactive workshops to establish or build upon a basic knowledge of play therapy. Our classes allow participants to experience many techniques from different theoretical frameworks, including expressive arts, puppet play, storytelling and more. For more information about using play therapy in practice, please contact the Academy for Play Therapy Training™ at (925) 626-0084 or send an email to You may also wish to take a look at the many opportunities for play therapy training at the Academy for Play Therapy Training™. These classes, workshops, and retreats allow professionals the opportunity to practice various techniques that can later be used during play therapy sessions. This type of training, offered to mental health professionals, allows one to begin or continue the path to becoming a registered play therapist. Please learn more at!