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How Does Play Therapy Help Children Heal from Trauma?

When adults experience a traumatic event or situation, therapy is often very beneficial. While it can be a long road to recovery, trauma therapy can help a person to manage their anxiety and identify their triggers.

With young children, though, traditional “talk” therapy isn’t usually the right fit.

Depending on your child’s age, it may be tough for them to share their feelings and thoughts through words. Or they may be shy, nervous, or scared. Those fears make them reluctant to talk to a therapist they don’t know.

That’s why play therapy is such an effective healing tool for children who have gone through a traumatic event.

So, what is play therapy? And how does it help?

What Is Play Therapy?

Play therapy is a way for a child to explore and express the experiences they’ve been through. It’s a child-led therapy session, in which the therapist observes, narrates, and asks questions about how the child is playing or what certain toys represent.

A play therapy session takes place in our playroom with a variety of toys, puppets, sand tray, miniatures, and imaginative props. Supplies are provided for your child to color or draw a picture. This offers us a chance to talk with your child about what the picture represents and how it might relate to what happened to them.

It’s natural for a child to play with toys. But the things they’re attracted to and how they use them can be strong indicators of how they feel. In essence, play is their most prominent language.

What Are the Benefits of Play Therapy?

Through play therapy, your child can express themselves in ways they might not be able to with words alone.

One of the biggest benefits of play therapy is that it gives your child an opportunity to experience happiness and healing. Simply by using their imagination or coloring a picture, they can feel some reassurance in knowing they’re safe and able to interact freely with the toys of their choosing.

With time, your child can also begin to form a trusting relationship with the therapist involved. When that occurs, more benefits emerge. Your child may be more willing to open up, giving us an opportunity to ask more specific questions about what happened, how she feels, etc.

If your child has been through trauma, the kind of information gleaned through play therapy can also help you when it comes to making their home life easier. In fact, play therapy can be a family effort. Some family members may participate in the play sessions, themselves. Others may receive coaching and tips from the therapist on ways to be supportive.

What to Expect from Play Therapy

Play therapy sessions are typically held once a week. Most children will benefit from 10-20 sessions, though it depends on how they’re handling things. It might take longer for children who have a hard time expressing their emotions to heal from what they’ve been through.

Not only does play therapy help to improve the connection between you and your child, but it’s designed to help them manage their own feelings and thoughts. As a result, the memory of the trauma can become less overwhelming and frightening.

If your child has been through a traumatic event and seems to be struggling, don’t wait to get help. Play therapy could be the perfect solution to help them deal with their own emotions. Feel free to contact us today to learn more about this type of therapy or to set up an appointment.

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