What is Play Therapy?

Play Therapy is a type of therapy where play and art materials are used as the main way for people to express themselves.

Using play in therapy helps people to express themselves in their own way; especially if they are struggling to understand how they are feeling, or are finding it hard to put their experiences into words.

Play Therapy can be a particularly helpful approach for children in need of therapeutic support.

Using play means that the child can explore their thoughts and feelings in creative and dynamic ways, without having to use words to articulate themselves. In Play Therapy sessions, children explore their own creativity and express themselves using media such as: drawing and painting, water and clay, sand tray and miniatures, guided imagery and relaxation techniques, drama and puppetry, poetry, movement and music.

Talking about problems can be hard for children. A child may not have the words to describe how they are feeling, or why they are behaving as they do. A child may not be able to recognise what they find difficult, or explain it to someone if asked. Play Therapy provides the expertise and time to do this through play. Play Therapy sessions aim to build a child’s ability to develop healthy and resilient relationships, and to work though traumatic experiences which may be preoccupying them. Pre-occupying difficult feeling can make learning at school or managing feelings impossible. Addressing difficult emotions through play provides a layer of story or metaphor to what is being shared and felt. Metaphor can provide a degree of removal from experience for the child. It can feel safer and less intense for a child to express themselves or explore their experiences through play.

PTUK therapists undertake rigorous academic and clinical training before qualifying. To be registered with PTUK, all our therapists must: have qualified via our university approved postgraduate courses, be Clinically Supervised by an Accredited Supervisor, attend regular accredited professional development courses and have an enhanced DBS check. Our practitioners are registered with the Professional Standards Authority, an independent organisation regulating and monitoring health and social care providers.

PTUK Play Therapists measure their work and share the results. Linking to our careful accreditation process for our clinicians, is our recording of practice data. Every Play Therapist records anonymised data from their work, which is collated and analysed to produce up-to-date research papers about our work. Our next analysis and publication is planned for late 2021.