"You can discover more about a person
in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."
In today's busy world with pressures at home, school, and work it is difficult to find the leisure time that we need to be healthy and happy. For children, play is an essential and fundamental need in their development. The benefits of play are well documented in the fields of child development, education, and psychology. Over the last fifty years research has shown that play is crucially important to children's intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development. Play is the work of childhood and provides children the opportunity to master developmental tasks, express themselves, regulate their emotions and behaviors, and navigate social relationships. It is through play experiences that children are able to make sense of their physical and social world.
Play therapy is a mental health treatment modality that serves children who are experiencing difficulties in the areas of social, emotional, and/or behavioral development. It has been found to be an effective treatment for children ages 3-12 and is utilized to help children cope with difficult emotions and find solutions to problems (Moustakas, 1997); Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005). Children who are also experiencing problems related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005) can benefit from play therapy. Play therapy helps children to become responsible for their behaviors; builds self-esteem and self-acceptance; develop problem-solving skills; identify and express emotions; develop empathy for others; learn new social skills, and strengthens parent-child relationships. Play therapy requires extensive, specialized education, experience, and training. Through the Association of Play Therapy (APT), licensed mental health professionals may earn Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S) credentials when they have completed an extensive level of education and training in play therapy. APT is committed to advancing play therapy and serve the research, training, and credentialing needs of mental health practitioners. For more information on play therapy, please visit the APT website (www.a4pt.org).