What are the benefits of
child centred play based therapy?
Facilitating Healing from Past Stressful and Traumatic Experiences
Sometimes children go through experiences that are traumatic and stressful for them. The feelings associated with these difficult experiences can get “stuck” and can cause emotional and behavioural problems. To feel better and improve the behaviour, the child needs to make sense of the stressful experience and assimilate it into what the child already knows about the world. This is called “processing”, an experience that usually involves expressing feelings, and through the therapeutic process arriving at a new understanding of the experience, which leads to behaviour changes. When children play with various play materials in ways that are similar to the difficult experiences from their lives, the symbolic expression is therapeutic and can bring positive changes to the child. In the therapeutic environment, the child’s natural healing process is activated and the “stuck” feelings and memories become “unstuck”. Play Therapy offers the child the opportunity to express feelings safely in ways that may be unacceptable in other places. Expressing feelings through play leads to understanding them, and eventually a decrease of disturbing feelings such as shame, helplessness and guilt.
Changing to New Ways of Thinking and Behaving
As the therapy progresses, I may introduce specific activities which help the child addressing his/her current difficulties. During the therapy, children are given the opportunity to make decisions and choices for themselves, which enables them to take control and also take responsibility for their actions, which develops healthy decision-making skills. Children can also learn appropriate behavior by the therapist modelling the desired behaviour through role play. I may also teach certain skills to help manage difficult feelings. Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and mental imagery are some of the ways to help children learn self-soothing skills.