What is Play Therapy and why use it for my child?

The beginnings of Play Therapy developed around the turn of the 20th century.  Today, Play Therapy refers to a number of treatment modalities incorporating play in various forms.  Play therapy is a structured and theoretically based approach to therapy.  It is not just a “play time” with a therapist.  Play Therapists are specially trained to understand the metaphorical nature of a child’s play, and are able to strategically use play to help the child express what is troubling him/her. 

In regular “talk therapy,” adults use verbal language to express to the therapist the issues they want to work through.  Children are typically unaware of the scope of their feelings, and usually don’t posses the verbal and/or language skills necessary to express those feelings.  Play becomes their language and the toys become their words.

The positive relationship developed during play between the therapist and child provides a corrective emotional experience for the child, which promotes healing.  Through play with a trained therapist, a child may learn better adaptive behaviors in the case of social or emotional deficits, gain insight about and resolution of internal struggles, correct distortions in thinking, and advance cognitive development.  Parents are also an integral part of the play therapy process, and meet regularly with the therapist. 

Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy on a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning issues, as well as life stressors.  Research also indicates that an average of 20 sessions are needed to resolve the issues of a typical child referred for treatment.  Children with more serious or ongoing problems may take longer to resolve.


Play therapy is generally employed with children aged three through 11 and provides a way for them to express their experiences and feelings through a natural, self-guided, self-healing process.

Teri Holamon, LPC-S, RPT-S, CAAPT-S, CHST

707 West Avenue D • Garland, TX • 75040

(214) 315-9670 • info@teriholamon.com


  1. Play Therapy