“Just Playing” – Some parents can become frustrated with play therapy, and will find themselves thinking, “they look like they are ‘just playing.'” It is important to remember that although it may appear like “just play” on the outside, hard work is happening inside the session. The therapist is listening to the child’s story by looking for patterns and themes in the child’s play. These patterns communicate what issues are important to the child. With time, the therapist can begin to make meaning of the play and can provide an opportunity for children to work through their problems. At the same time, the child is learning how the world works, how to process information, how to conquer fears and confront anxiety, how to sort out hurts and power struggles, and how to cope in the world. In play therapy, children play out their issues in the same way that adults talk through their issues in traditional ‘talk therapy.’
Written by Laurie Taylor, M.A.