What is Play Therapy? How it Works? Techniques

What is Play Therapy?

Children cannot express certain feelings and thoughts as well as adults, and they are often never aware of their own feelings and thoughts. Therefore, it is very difficult for them to express some things. Play is to children what talk means to adults. So play is a place for the child to express or explore certain emotions, to convey their experiences, to satisfy themselves. In this respect, toys mean that children want to express words and the games they play.

Play therapy; It is the treatment and improvement of mental problems and behavioral problems in children with games and toys through a specialist. In other words, it is a therapy method that helps children express their emotions and problems they have experienced.

In play therapy, the intense emotions or conflicts experienced by the child in his own inner world are transferred to the game and toys. In this case, the play therapist’s task is; to accept the child as he is and to provide the necessary environment for his growth and development. Play therapy can be interpreted as a relationship process established between the child and the therapist. This process gives the therapist the opportunity to understand the child’s own inner world, emotions and experiences. In order to provide confidence in the environment where play therapy is applied; it is necessary to be consistent, to set a limit when necessary and to offer some options. Because with these limits and options, the child’s self-control and self-awareness develops.

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When is Play Therapy Applied?

“Play Therapy Method” is applied for some psychological problems seen in children between the ages of 2 and 12. The psychological problems that occur in children in this age range are as follows:

Anxiety disorder,

Post-traumatic stress disorder,

  • Hyperactivity and attention deficit,
  • Impulsiveness,
  • Introversion,

Reading disorders,


  • Lack of trust,
  • Abdominal and headaches of unknown cause,
  • Play therapy method is used to solve many problems such as adaptation problems after divorce.

Is Play Therapy Different From Daily Game Types?

Game for kids; They are fun, automatic and voluntary actions that do not depend on external rewards. In play therapy; It is a treatment method provided with a play therapist, toys and a play therapy room. The play of the child is the same in all situations, but in play therapy, play is meaningful by a specialist therapist and its healing properties are emphasized. Some symbolic expressions that the child creates in the game are understood through the expert play therapist. The play therapist helps the child to express their inner world starting from the game. The games that children play on a daily basis are different in terms of functionality, even if they do not have a different content than the game they play in play therapy. In this respect, play therapy is different from the game played on a daily basis.

How Does Play Therapy Process Work?

First of all, a child who comes to play therapy is offered various toys that will help him express his own problems. Later, an expert play therapist encourages the child to play as they wish by creating a safe environment for the child coming to therapy. Then the content, course and scenario of the game will be completely under the control of the child. In this process, the child chooses the toys that best suit the emotional problems they will reflect and plays with them. The therapist participates in all of the child’s games, accompanies the child and his game without limiting it and becomes a part of this process. In this way, with the help of the child therapist, he relives his negative experiences and emotions that are very difficult for him and gets the chance to improve his skills by working on these problems. As the child strengthens himself in the game, relief occurs in emotional distress and recovery occurs spontaneously as a result of the session.

What Benefits Does Play Therapy Provide to Children?

Play therapy allows children to better understand and recognize their own feelings and thoughts. Children learn to express their emotions with appropriate methods in order to meet their needs. In addition, play therapy for children;

  • The appropriate development of problem solving skills,
  • Solving their internal conflicts,
  • Decreasing problematic behaviors,
  • Increasing their self-confidence,
  • Make their voices heard and express themselves,
  • take responsibility for their actions,
  • Provides the development of self-control.

What Are the Materials Required for Play Therapy?

For play therapy, there should be a convenient and spacious playroom with toys and materials suitable for play therapy, where the child will feel safe and peaceful. In addition, the toys to be used in play therapy should allow reality and attract the attention of the child. In other words, all toys used in play therapy should consist of toys related to real life. The categories of toys used in therapy can be classified as follows:

  • Real-life toys: Any real-life toy, such as puppets, dolls, animals, and vehicles.
  • Toys that help to remove aggression: Pistol, soldiers, dart game, toys such as handcuffs…
  • Toys needed for emotional and creative release: Toys such as sand, water, plastic blocks, paints, play dough, paper and hand puppets.

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