When does a child need Play Therapy?

According to the BAPT website, “Parents and carers often worry when a child has a problem that causes them to be sad, disruptive, rebellious, unable to cope or inattentive. Every child is unique and special but sometimes they experience problems with feelings and behaviours that cause disruption to their lives and the lives of those around them.”

Most children go through difficult times in their lives and some children need more help than others to get through these times. But, if you, as a parent, or teacher, are concerned about a child’s behaviour, play therapy could be the answer. According to Dr. Landreth, “It is the most appropriate treatment for helping your child work through difficult times and helping you gain a better understanding of what your child is going through.”

Perhaps a child is displaying a change in behaviour and/or mood and this is affecting a child’s relationships. These difficulties may become distressing, not only for a child, but also for a family.

Examples of changes in a child:

  • Nightmares
  • Bed wetting/soiling
  • Aggressive behaviour (hurting others or self)
  • Sudden clinginess or frequent crying
  • Increased separation anxiety
  • Change in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Development of fears and anxieties e.g. fear of the dark
  • School refusal
  • Changes in schoolwork abilities
  • Quieter and more passive behaviour than usual
  • Lying/Stealing
  • Depressed/Withdrawn behaviour
  • Difficulties in forming friendships
  • Low self-esteem
  • Preoccupation with sexual behaviour
  • Regression (e.g. baby talk or “immature” behaviour)
  • Physical symptoms (e.g. headaches, stomach aches that have no medical cause).

What do Play Therapists do?

Play Therapists work with children suffering from a range of challenges:

  • Psychological difficulties;
  • Behavioural difficulties; and/or
  • Complex life experiences.

Research has found Play Therapy to be an effective therapeutic approach for a variety of children’s difficulties including:

  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Death and the grieving process (e.g. of a parent, grandmother or sibling)
  • Loss
  • Trauma (e.g. abuse, domestic violence, natural disasters, neglect and various other traumatic experiences)
  • Chronic Illness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Learning Difficulties
  • ADD or ADHD
  • Selective Mutism
  • Children whose parents have mental health difficulties, and/or addictions
  • Children who have been hospitalized
  • Children who have been adopted or are in foster care
  • Children who have witnessed serious accidents
  • Children who have difficulties making friends/school difficulties
  • Sleeping and eating difficulties
  • Identity issues