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

I use playing therapy when working with young children and families.

— Cynthia Cruz, Counselor in Chicago, IL
 

Play Therapy is also offered in our dedicated Play Therapy room for children 3 & up. Play Therapy allows young children to express their feelings, thoughts, and needs through creative play with a trained therapist. I work closely with parents/caregivers to address their child's emotional, behavioral, & cognitive needs through Parent Consultations & Coaching.

— Ronda Wegman, Licensed Professional Counselor in Houston, TX

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
 

Children communicate their experiences, thoughts, and feelings through play. It is a natural medium for them and developmentally appropriate. Through play children express their wishes, wants, needs and the perceptions of themselves and the world. Play helps children explore their relationships, resolve conflicts and develop coping strategies.

— Janine Caamano, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Basking Ridge, NJ

My experience working with young children in the school setting has helped me understand play as the natural language of children. Play is a major form of expression for children who have not yet grown their emotional vocabulary. I greatly enjoy putting myself on a child's level to learn about their world and their feelings through play.

— Brenda McGrath, Clinical Social Worker in Burlington, VT
 

Play Therapy is a research-based, developmentally appropriate way for children to work through feelings and problems they are experiencing. Because children may not have the verbal language to express themselves and process their experiences, play therapy provides an opportunity for them to communicate without words.

— Jeanine Rousso, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Unlike adults, children often use other forms of communication, such as playing, to relate how they feel. I provide toys and art materials so that your child can express his or her difficulties. This play gives me the information I need to understand your child's troubles. I work with children to resolve their difficulties in a supportive and safe setting. I work collaboratively with parents to help them to better understand the specific needs and abilities of their child.

— Miranda Gabriel, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist in Campbell, CA
 

Supports children in using play to express themselves, explore thoughts and feelings, and find ways to manage stressors.

— Christine Brent, Clinical Social Worker in Rochester, NY

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

I have utilized play therapy with majority of the children, adolescents, and teens that I engage with. For children, play is how they communicate and is l language. Children have difficulty sometimes expressing their emotions and feelings either due to where they are developmentally or they do not yet have the language to connect to a feeling. Therefore, through play therapy you can enhance the ability for children to explore and express themselves and their repressed thoughts and emotions.

— Tristin Malone, Therapist in Laurel, MD
 

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

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 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

It would be silly to think that as a child is developing and just beginning to grow their knowledge in words and word meanings, as a therapist I would assume that words would be the avenue to process the issues and struggles which brings a child into therapy. With play therapy treatment, a child’s struggles become clear and play becomes the vessel for communication. Through play, a child can be heard and understood, can become self-empowered, and can ultimately heal. Play is essential to a child’s development and helps build trust, express feelings, and inspire creativity. Play therapy is useful for children and families recovering from trauma, struggling with parenting and children’s behavioral issues, coping with grief and loss, families of divorce and separation, recovering from abuse, school issues and academic struggles, as well as many other difficulties.

— Christy Livingston, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Healdsburg, CA
 

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

Play therapy is helpful, especially when working with children, to assess their strengths in learning, because children would not know how to verbally express these complexities. Play therapy is also helpful in building and maintaining the therapeutic relationship, while using specific interventions, to address issuse such as impulisivity and emotional responding.

— Tina Schneider, Psychologist in Westerville, OH
 

I am a registered play therapist and supervisor (RPT-S) through the Association for Play Therapy. This credential requires several hundred hours of continuing education and practice with play therapy. I am a member of several branches of The Association for Play Therapy.

— Lacey Fisher, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

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
 

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

Just as children learn about life through play, in play therapy, they heal and resolve issues through play. A common misconception about play therapy is, “So you play with them so that they feel comfortable telling you what is going on with them?” No. The play is used in a strategic way, and conversation is not required for healing. Play therapy’s philosophy is that the child already has everything they need to solve a problem. The therapist is the guide who facilitates the breakthrough.

— Ofra Obejas, Clinical Social Worker in Redondo Beach, CA
 

I am a Registered Play Therapist which means I have additional masters level education and supervision in all things children and teens.

— Leslie Gleason, Counselor in Blue Springs, MO

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 communicate through the language of play. Young children's rapidly developing minds are processing new information everyday and it can be challenging for them to make sense of it all. I provide an array of play therapy tools and materials for children to utilize and help guide them towards making sense of confusing situations. Parents are often asked to participate during this therapy in order to learn ways to promote further healing in the home environment.

— Danielle Powell, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Kingston, NY

Emotions and struggles can be integrated in the realm of true play. Children can become more integrated through the play therapy process. I am certified in Synergetic Play Therapy.

— Maria Arias, Licensed Professional Counselor 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 integrate play and art in my work with children and teens in order to make therapy engaging and developmentally appropriate.

— Julie Hsu, Psychologist in Austin, TX
 

In utilizing play therapy, children are able to share about their understanding of their world and are empowered to create changes in order to manage feelings of anxiety, address negative beliefs about self, and create an overall feeling of safety.

— Azine Graff, Psychologist in Encino, CA