What is Therapeutic play?

Why play? 

Play is the occupation of children, through play they...

Play should be

Play therapy Then & Now

The therapeutic benefits of play were recognized as early as 1909 and with contributions from many pioneering therapists over the years.   Early play therapy began with the concept of interpretation of play as a symbolic language for children.  Additional theories underlying the development of specific play models including emphasis on humanistic and relational viewpoints.   More recent models have expanded focused on the integration of caregiver coaching into play therapy sessions. 

Principles of Therapeutic Play

Parents as play partners

You know your child the best and have unique attributes that contribute to your child's success.  

Parents can contribute a great deal of information and insight during private meetings with the therapist that may help guide the direction of therapy.  During the play  sessions with your child you will receive coaching and feedback on the following skills. 

The importance of "special play time" 

Toy selection for therapeutic play

Play interventions are focused on allowing the child opportunity for expression.  Toys should be selected that provide a variety of options for expression, are durable, engage the child's interest and are not complex

Do use these toys

Toys to avoid in play therapy

Facilitative Responding 

Your therapist will guide you on building strategies for this important key strategy in therapeutic play.   When responding in the therapeutic play environment it is important to remember the key principles including Unconditional Acceptance.   

Landreth's "Be With" attitudes:  Your intent with actions, presence and the way you respond should always coney to the child...

"I am here- I hear you- I understand - I care - I delight in you"



(adapted from Guerney, 1972)

Play interventions across settings

Integrating therapeutic play concepts is beneficial in many settings from homes to hospitals to schools.  Play therapy concepts allow the child to develop confidence and internal sense of control to make choices, improve self-esteem, allow opportunity for expression and a means for understanding their world and how to relate to others.  Evidence supports that play therapy interventions