What is Heal Through Play

Play Therapy is used as a means of helping children express or communicate their feelings
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Understanding Play Therapy

“Toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language” Gary Landreth

Play therapy is for children while counselling is for adults.

Children, like adults can often have difficulties articulating how they feel and how to verbally express their emotions.

Play is a natural way to explore the child’s world so that the child can express and work through their emotions, feelings, and experiences.

Play is an evidence based therapeutic intervention that demonstrates the value and effectiveness of play and play therapy for children who experience social, emotional, and behavioural challenges.

The relationship between the child and therapist provides a safe environment that allows the child to safely explore their world.

Sara, your play therapist fully understands and accepts the child’s world to encourage the expression of the child’s emotional world.

Play therapy can assist the child to develop coping strategies, empathy, and respect for others, build their self-esteem, and help the child become more confident, stronger, and happier.

Who Can Play Therapy Help


Trauma in children is an unexpected, distressing and life changing event

Play enables children to distance themselves from the traumatic event and work through their feelings in a holistic and natural way. Using symbolic materials such as the toys to make sense of the events that have surrounded them.

Play therapy is a more comforting approach in learning to understand and cope with trauma in a child’s world.

Symptoms of Trauma

  • Reoccurring and frightening dreams
  • Recurrence of distressing events
  • Intense prolonged distress
  • Anxiety, sadness, aggression hypervigilance (constant state of arousal) and sleeping issues


Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Play Therapy can resolve some core difficulties in children that display Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD} and children on the autism spectrum. It also helps to assist children with their social interactions and communication difficulties.

Through therapy  children develop trust and learn to engage socially with the therapist. Thus transferring skills into the home and the school environment.

Sara, your Child Centred Play Therapist works alongside parents/carers with behavioural interventions and helps with attachment behaviours.

Grief and Loss in Children

Play allows symbolic expressions of feelings and provides a safe place where children can express their feelings of grief and loss. A child who may not be able to express their feelings and speak out loud about their inner experience will often be able to show it through play.

Grief and loss can look like many things for children, such as

  • The loss of a beloved pet
  • The loss of a family member or parent
  • Separation or divorce
  • Illness
  • Moving, leaving a stable environment.
  • Children uprooted from their place of birth and relocating to a new country, new culture, can often experience loss of identity.
  • Grief and loss may also look like a child not being able to live at home anymore. (drugs and alcohol) – unstable home.

Learning Disabilities

Play therapy can assist with children living with a disability better strengthen their own social relationships and be able to uncover their capabilities. It can help children living with disability to better express and process complicated emotions, assist with improving self-regulation and social skills.

Play therapy has also assisted in aiding and developing new creative solutions to problems.

Play Therapy assists with developing empathy towards others, and reducing anxiety, and developing self-esteem and mastery skills.

Play Therapy Techniques


Stories can be both told and acted out in Play Therapy, this allows children to express their emotions and thoughts.

To understand storytelling in play therapy is to understand how these stories assist children to recall past memories and address current concerns.

Play therapy, fantasy and the therapeutic art of storytelling can allow the child to distance themselves from the immediate issues and be used as a vehicle to deal with problematic situations in a non-threatening way.


The benefits of role playing are many. Role playing in Play therapy enhances skills required for healthy development, along with being fun. Using imagination in their play improves their creativity and promotes better performance in school and it also helps them develop a strong problem-solving approach in dealing with issues. This is because it allows them to take up characters that act out real life roles.

In play therapy there are many types of role-playing,

  • Occupational role-playing doctors, police teachers etc this encourages empathy and nurturing amongst children.
  • Fantasy and make believe – superheros, princesses encourages identifying good from bad encouraging bravery.
  • Real life situations – This helps children working through issues and overcoming troubles.

Roleplaying has the added benefit of encouraging creativity and imagination, enriching children’s language and communication skills, developing, and strengthening social and emotional skills as well as enhancing physical development.

Arts and Crafts

Art itself is a form of expression and can be considered non-verbal communication. For children who may not be able to articulate thoughts, Art can be a medium to express how they are feeling. It is a sensory based approach that allows children to experience and communicate on multiple levels, through sensory based approaches such as visual, tactile, kinesthetics and more.

Sand Play

As with Play therapy, children are sometimes unable to verbalise emotional states, particular in relation to trauma and abuse. The non-verbal nature of sand play can assist children to feel comfortable and secure. Sand play can be a valuable and powerful outlet for children and young people.
Children can choose the figurines to utilise in the sandpit often exploring their own story and world, In cases of trauma and possible abuse the sand tray can be a powerful tool for children to tell their story without words through the medium of sand.

"Children need at least one person in their life who thinks the sun rises and sets on them, someone who delights in their existence and loves them unconditionally." Pamela Leo

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood,”
Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers.

Play is so important ...especially through these uncertain times it allows for children to express their feelings, concerns, and worries.

Another big day in the playroom... and where do I find Boris .... on the couch sleeping on the job ….