Play Therapy

Therapeutic play helps children with social or emotional deficits learn to communicate better, change their behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and relate to others in positive ways. It is appropriate for children undergoing or witnessing stressful events in their lives, such as a serious illness or hospitalization, domestic violence, abuse, trauma, a family crisis, or an upsetting change in their environment. It can also help with learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, anxiety, depression, grief, or anger, as well as those with attention deficit disorders or who are on the autism spectrum.


What to expect in a play therapy session

The parent or caregiver plays an important role in play therapy for children. After conducting an initial intake interview with the parent, when the therapist collects information about the child, and, often, a separate interview with the child, the therapist can make an assessment prior to beginning treatment.  In the playroom, the child is encouraged to play with very specific types of toys that encourage self-expression and facilitate the learning of positive behaviors. Arts and crafts, music, dancing, storytelling, and other tools may also be incorporated into play therapy. Play therapy usually occurs in weekly sessions for an average of 20 sessions lasting 30 to 45 minutes each.

What are the types of Play Therapy?

There is directive and non-directive. Non-directive approach are just giving the child access to a Play Room in order to connect with them without giving them any directions besides safety and not breaking toys. Children will usually play scenarios to relive and process moments in their lives and we can observe how they play in order to understand what is happening in their lives. Children will usually replay important moments in their lives in order to understand and process it.


Directive approaches are base on games, rules and directions. For example, well act a story together and I will ask questions about the story. I can also give a child crayons and aske them to draw their favorite movie.


What is it good for?

Play Therapy can be used for a multitude of problems including anxiety, depression, self-esteem. But it can also be used to develop attachment, solve trauma. It can help children going through grief, a divorce, a new foster family. The possibilities are limitless.


Can you use it only with children?

No, I also use Play Therapy with teenagers, usually in forms of stories and art. It can also be used for Family Therapy, Couples Counseling, siblings, etc. A good example would be sandtrays which can be used from any stage of life from toddlers to seniors. Sandtrays can also be used in groups, families, couples and individuals. Possibilities are endless.


I hope this is helpful and feel free to reach out if you are looking for more information or to book a session. Play Therapy is an approach that has been used for a hundred years. But it is just finally coming to the Atlantic Provinces.

© 2018 by Laura Gatien, M.SW. Proudly created by LCWD.