Play Therapy provides a safe space to explore the root causes of social, emotional and mental health difficulties through play and creativity.
We develop our sense of who we are through play. Whether this is our sense of our bodies through rolling around on the floor, our relationship with the world by joyfully squelching our food with our hands or developing social skills through nursery rhymes and games with our carers.
Play is essential throughout our lives and Play Therapy is an intervention that is suitable for any age from conception through to old age, which can be delivered 1:1, in groups and as a parent-child play therapy intervention.
Child-Centred Play Therapy is a gentle intervention that trusts in people’s capacity to guide their therapy process. This has been shown to build self-belief, confidence and reaches the underlying causes of the difficulties, which is more likely to ensure deeper, more sustainable, long term benefits.
We connect with others most effectively through play, even as adults. Consider how interactive we are when we play a board game with others or play football together. Sharing playful and fun experiences supports the building of relationships. Therefore, in Play Therapy children and young people can more rapidly and securely experience building a relationship with the therapist & play is a highly successful way to build more secure family relationships.
Play also enables children and adults to organise feelings and experiences that we find it hard to find words for because they are so big and confusing. We may have the words sad and angry, but very often difficult and big feelings are not that easily described as they are a mixture of feelings that can feel too overwhelming to be captured in a single word. This is where play comes in. These feelings might be more easily captured by the image of a storm and by playing out this storm we can start to communicate this feeling to someone else, begin to feel we have control over it and eventually find ways to calm the storm.
Furthermore, when processing a traumatic experience, we are likely to need to return to that developmental stage to express it, so trauma that occurs before we are able to speak will be more likely expressed through very early stages of sensory play.
Some experiences may be too painful or frightening to talk about or express literally but by playing them out they can more safely access the feelings and organise the experiences. For example, people often find it easier to talk about their feelings talking through a puppet.
Some feelings are also so big that people express them in unsafe ways, such as through aggressive behaviours or self-harm. In Play Therapy we ensure that there are clear boundaries to keep everyone safe and feelings expressed in an unsafe way are guided by the therapist into a safer expression in play. This supports the development of self-regulation.
Age and our expectations of what people should be playing with become eroded in the play therapy space, giving people the opportunity to redo these play stages or express what they need to without feeling ashamed or embarrassed. Teenagers in our sessions may play with the dolls or playdough or even want to rock in the play tent with a baby bottle in their mouths.
Not only does play provide all the benefits already mentioned but it also releases happy chemicals in the brain and increases our capacity to learn. Being able to play is, therefore, essential to our mental health and well-being. Play Therapy can help people to overcome their barriers to playing and feeling playful and enable everyone to access the naturally healing benefits of play.
For a great video that humorously demonstrates why Play Therapy is so effective, please go to
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Parent-Child Attachment Play
PCAP is a 10-step parenting programme based on the Play Therapy model that recognises the importance of play in the development of key skills required for forming a secure parent-child attachment. It is an Early Help programme and can be delivered as a 1:1 or group and in the home or at a setting, which means it has the flexibility to meet the needs of the family.
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Maaike Geschwindt - Play Therapy Home