Play therapy is thought to be one of the most beneficial means of helping children who are experiencing emotional or behavioral challenges. Though the approach may benefit people of all ages, it is specially designed to treat children under 12.
The counseling space often referred to as a playroom, includes carefully selected toys that encourage the child to express his or her feelings and develop healthier behaviors. The child’s interactions with these toys essentially serve as the child’s symbolic words. This allows the therapist to learn about specific thoughts and emotions that a child may find difficult or impossible to express verbally.
Play therapy benefits include encouraging creativity, promoting healing from traumatic events, facilitating the expression of emotions, encouraging the development of positive decision-making skills, introducing new ways of thinking and behaving, learning problem-solving skills, developing better social skills, and facilitating the communication of personal problems or concerns.
Scientific research has proven that play is a crucial factor in healthy child development. Neuroscience has revealed that the majority of the brain’s growth takes place within the first five years of a child’s life, and the act of play contributes significantly toward the development of interconnections between neurons. These neural links play a major role in key areas of the child’s life, such as learning, social development, emotional development, and memory.
Play is considered to be especially important for the healthy development of children who have experienced stressful events or past trauma. While the effects of trauma tend to reside in the nonverbal areas of the brain-the hippocampus, amygdala, thalamus, and brain stem-a person’s capacity to communicate and process adverse issues resides in the brain’s frontal lobes. As a result, children affected by trauma may find it difficult to let other people know that they need help. The physical and role-playing activities associated with play therapy have proven instrumental in helping to move traumatic memories and sensations from the nonverbal brain areas to the frontal lobes.
Here’s a video explaining more about Play Therapy