Play is the Language of Children
Play is considered by therapists to be the natural language of children. All therapists strive to "meet the client where they're at" and for children that means joining them in their play. Children experience many of the same emotions that adults do, they are just not experienced enough yet to use spoken language to communicate their experiences and receive new ideas. By communicating through play, therapists can listen and speak with kids in a way they understand.
Play is the Work of Childhood
Renowned educator, Maria Montessori, described play as the work of childhood. During their play, children build so many skills that they need to be healthy adults. During play, children learn to be creative and inventive, they learn how they relate to other people, overcome their anxieties and learn to believe in themselves. Children learn about the world through play, problem solve, and learn to comfort themselves when they're stressed. Children naturally learn all these skills and so much more while playing.
Play with Teens
Older kids also benefit from play. Although teens are much more able to use their words than younger children, that doesn't mean that they always want to. Using games, art, movement and other non-verbal interventions in therapy, takes some of the pressure to speak off of teens. Research has also shown that people of all ages learn better when their minds and body are working together. Putting a teen's hands to work during therapy can allow them to think more clearly and connect more deeply with their emotions.
What does the Therapist Do?
During a play-based therapy session, my job is to help the child make sense of what they are communicating and to support them in managing big emotions that come up. I do this by showing them that I'm interested in their play, teaching them about the feelings they show me, and teaching them new skills to manage tough situations that they run into in their lives.
I then take all that information that I gather from your child and brainstorm, with you, new ways to support them!
"Play is our brain's favorite way of learning"