"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation."-Plato
Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children (Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002; O'Connor & Schaefer, 1983). Play therapists utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings (Gil, 1991). In play therapy, toys are like the child's words and play is the child's language (Landreth, 2002). Through play, counselors may help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits (Pedro-Carroll & Reddy, 2005). In addition, play allows children to practice skills and roles needed to be successful in life.
Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them (Axline, 1947; Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002). Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others.
*Information adapted from Association for Play Therapy. Please visit their website (www.a4pt.org) for more information on play therapy.
Filial Play Therapy or Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT)
Filial Play Therapy can assist in rediscovering the pathways to connect with your child or adolescent within the safety of the therapeutic relationship. Similarly, CPRT, focuses on the importance of the relationship between the parent and child, with the parent serving as the therapeutic agent of change (Landreth, 2006).
Filial Therapy and CPRT are Play Therapy based programs designed to focus on increasing communication and building a stronger and healthier relationship with your child. This parent training program is designed to give parents new skills, based directly on play therapy principles, and allows time to practice with their child in order to master them. Parents also receive feedback from the counselor following each practice session in order to build upon and refine the learned skills. It is suitable for children between the ages of 3 and 12 years old. Research has shown Filial Therapy and CPRT to be successful with many child and family problems: oppositional behaviors, anxiety, depression, perfectionism, abuse/neglect, single parenting, traumatic events, attachment/adoption/foster care, relationship problems, divorce, family substance abuse, family reunification, chronic illness, and others. This will truly forever change the way you interact with your children.