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Play Therapy: Healing Through Play

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  • Written By: Robert Ouimette, LMSW
Play Therapy: Healing Through Play

Many of us find it difficult to express our thoughts and emotions. The pandemic and other world events have caused extreme disruption in our lives, making them more challenging. These stressful times can be overwhelming and unbearable for children, especially those who have experienced trauma or significant life changes.

Sometimes the challenges families face are impossible to solve on their own. Seeking help from an experienced, compassionate professional can make a tremendous difference, and Play Therapy may be the right solution for your child.

Play Therapy takes place in a comfortable playroom setting that encourages open communication in a space where children can feel relaxed and safe. The therapist uses play and other creative activities to communicate with the child and observe how the child uses these activities to express thoughts and feelings that are not expressed in words. Because it encourages free expression and offers a place where there are few rules or limits, the therapist can observe the child’s choices, decisions and play style.

The goal of Play Therapy is to help children learn to express themselves in healthier ways through the use of play and toys. It also helps children with social or emotional deficits learn to express and explore feelings and emotions through play, develop problem-solving skills and relate to others in positive ways.

Among the many benefits of Play Therapy, children will:
• Improve their social skills and learn to respect others
• Express themselves through play better than verbal communication
• Process and express their emotions and feelings
• Develop skills to manage and control behavior
• Develop independence and creative thinking
• Develop stronger relationships with family members

In addition to children who have been exposed to trauma, stressful situations or are experiencing significant life changes, Play Therapy can also be used to successfully address some behavioral health disorders.

Robert Ouimette, LMSW

Robert Ouimette is a licensed master social worker (LMSW) and clinical site director of behavioral and integrated health at Jewish Family & Children’s Service's East Valley Healthcare Center. JFCS offers a variety of mental health therapy options including play therapy at our integrated healthcare centers.