Play Therapy

Typically used as a therapeutic treatment for children, play therapy is a method of meeting and responding to the mental health needs of young people in a language they understand – namely, play. Play therapy is seen an effective and suitable intervention in dealing with children’s brain development. It is considered to be one of the most beneficial ways to help children who are experiencing emotional or behavioral challenges. A therapist specializing in play therapy will create a safe and comfortable space where the child can play (typically in a non-directive way) with very few limits or rules. The therapist will observe the child at play. The goal is to help children learn to better express themselves and resolve their problems. Think this approach might be right for a child in your life? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s play therapy experts today.

Meet the specialists

While they play, I help your child work through intense emotions, worries and struggles by using a powerful type of therapy called Synergetic Play Therapy. In this style of play therapy, I name my own feelings that arise while your child plays. Using this approach allows your child to see me as being authentic, which gets them to trust me. Naming my own feelings also encourages your child to reflect within themselves and become curious about how they are feeling.

— Kathy Temple, Counselor in Broomfield, CO

— Melanie Taylor, Counselor in Fort Smith, AR

I am a Registered Play Therapist who has presented on play therapy to refugee relief workers in Athens, Greece. Becoming a play therapist requires extensive, in-depth postgraduate training as well as extra supervision. Children naturally learn, solve problems, and make sense of feelings through play, and I believe almost every child in counseling could benefit from a play therapy approach.

— Katie Lear, Licensed Professional Counselor in Davidson, NC

Children use play to communicate, using toys, arts and crafts, and games to express their experiences. Play therapy is a developmentally appropriate way of working with kids by using their natural form of communication. Through the use of play, we help kids gain insight, identify and regulate emotions, process situations, and engage in more effective ways to practice skills.

— Marcy Tocker, Counselor in Mohrsville, PA

I have been practicing Play Therapy at The Bridge Center for Play Therapy since 2019. Trained in the Transformational Model developed by Bridget Tedeschi, LPC, I have supported numerous clients through a process of transformation to help them overcome their emotional and behavioral challenges.

— Jamie Quail, Therapist in Boulder, CO

I have training in play therapy, expressive arts therapy, and sand tray therapy with children ages 4 and up.

— Marshall Marshall, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Dallas, TX

Magic Moments Play Therapy specializes in fostering a space where emotional processes can be explored. Our mission is to provide children & their families with the opportunity to build communication, create connection, overcome fears & trust the intelligence within themselves so when it comes time to handle the hard things, they can be confident socially & emotionally.

— Jennifer Kubalak, Counselor in Boulder, CO

Play is the language of childhood. Therapeutic play uses open-ended, expressive tools to invite creativity, stories, wishes & worries into the room. Children making sense of traumatic events often find comfort in moving sand, building miniature worlds, and giving voice to puppets. My work is to see and understand your child's point of view. For kids who struggle with fears and feelings, big questions, or finding their voice, the playroom offers a safe space.

— MereAnn Reid, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Portland, OR

Children learn through play. By allowing them to playout their experiences in a safe, nurturing environment, children process and heal from traumatic experiences. Sandtray therapy (which is also used with teens and adults) allows children to make sense of their world through directive and non-directive means. Using the Nurtured Heart Approach during sessions also allows dysregulated children the space and control to help monitor and manage their own behaviors. Though not a registered play therapist, I have taken courses in graduate school and have seven years of continuing education and experience working primarily with children in the school setting.

— Tricia Norby, Counselor in Madison, WI

I am a seasoned child therapist who has worked with children in play therapy for almost 30 years. I use art, structured and unstructured play, and therapeutic games.

— Robin Knoblach, Clinical Psychologist in Herndon, VA

Play is kids’ most natural form of communication. Toys are to kids what words are to adults. My office is set up specifically to with toys to give kids a wide vocabulary to help them communicate and process social, emotional, or behavioral challenges or difficult life transitions. I am trained in Child-Centered Play Therapy and under the supervision of Dr. Kimberly Jayne, RPT-S, CCPT.

— Katrina Thatcher, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Portland, OR

I have 19 years of experience as a school counselor in an elementary school and an alternative middle and high school. I have diverse play therapy training but lean primarily on a modality called Synergetic Play Therapy. SPT honors both the therapeutic powers of play, the science that governs relationship, and the development of the therapist, recognizing that it is ultimately the interplay between these three systems that support deep transformation for both therapist and child.

— Brittany Eide, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Beaverton, OR

I believe that everyone can benefit from play. Research has shown that children learn the most while playing because of the way that their brains take in information. I don't think that stops when you turn 18. For that reason, I try to incorporate play therapy techniques when I can, which may mean playing games, doing art, or simply trying fun movements to demonstrate my point.

— Evan Harris, Social Worker in Columbia, MD

I am a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor. I have worked with children using play therapy techniques for more than 10 years.

— Andrea Vargas, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Weston, FL

Play Therapy is developmentally appropriate, child-centered and an invitation into the child's world, the language of children, a space for self-soothing and physical regulation to the body, and a safe space to teach social skills like creating and following rules, taking turns, problem solving, self-confidence, fairness, and builds empathy for others.

— Colleen Brunell, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Austin, TX

I have sought out continued education and supervision in the modality of play therapy. Children express themselves and explore their world through play. Where kids may not be able to verbalize anxieties, loss, or other issues verbally, play allows these issues to arise and be processed though the safety and distance of metaphor. By engaging in the play, a therapist can assist clients in safely learning, exploring, challenging, and creating new ways of being and doing in their everyday world.

— Sarah Stein-Wolf, in Greenville, NC

For children, it might seems as though talking comes much too naturally. However, finding the words they need to say isn’t as easy during this time. Our belief as play therapists is that a child’s language is play and toys are children’s words. Toys are carefully selected for play therapy for children to play with so the therapist can search for themes and engage in play with the child which is their natural form of self-expression. Play therapy is more than just playing.

— Mallory Striesfeld, Licensed Professional Counselor in Houston, TX

With over 300 clinical hours of supervised play therapy experience, I offer my work with children ages 3 to 11 years old as my area of expertise. I have clinical experience with kids who struggle with a variety of presenting symptoms including: aggression, impulsivity, attention issues, anxiety, attachment disruptions, depression, grief, difficult peer/sibling relationships, high-conflict parental relationships, school refusal, and poor academic performance.

— Jennifer Cobb, Associate Professional Counselor in Charlotte, NC

Play Therapy provides an opportunity for children to work through their problems in a supportive and safe situation. While adults find relief in talking over their difficulties with a therapist, children are often unable to express their thoughts and feelings in words. Children communicate their thoughts and feelings through play more naturally than they do through verbal communication. Please contact me today if you feel your child could benefit from play therapy.

— Sabrina Merz, Counselor in Boulder, CO

Often when we are at a loss for words, creative play can be a form of communication that expresses what is not available through words. Play therapy is a structured approach to therapy where children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others.

— Chui-Tan Lee, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Portland, OR

Completion of 2-year Post-Master's training in Play Therapy. 15 years of experience providing non-directive play therapy with children ages 3-12 yrs old.

— Robyn Holmes-Cannon, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in , CA

Trained play therapists with additional training in Ecosystemic play therapy, Expressive Arts with Children and Adolescents and counseling children and adolescents! Our therapists have worked with children diagnosed with ODD, ADHD, Autism, Conduct Disorder, Depression and Anxiety.

— Anderson Counseling & Education, Licensed Professional Counselor in Fort Mill, SC

I am a Registered Play Therapist. I have completed hundreds of hours of play therapy sessions, and the concurrent supervision. I have also attended numerous trainings on play therapy techniques. I primarily use Theraplay, child centered play therapy and experiential play therapy techniques.

— Clara Rivers, Clinical Social Worker in Roseville, MN