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Play Therapy


"Without this playing with fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable." C.G. Jung

A play therapist uses a child’s internal healing mechanism to transform current life issues by accessing past, present, conscious, and unconscious experiences through play. During Play Therapy, the child and therapist form a relationship in which the child is encouraged to explore each life event that affects his or her current circumstances in a manner and pace of his or her choosing. Play is the primary tool used during this form of therapy, and language is secondary to the play. Play Therapy was developed by Virginia Axline, Clark Moustakas, Sue Jennings, and Ann Cattanach. 


Play Therapy for Adults

By adulthood, most people have lost their ability to playfully explore themselves. Play therapists are trained to help a person relearn the valuable tool of play. Playful exploration has been proven to enhance both cognitive and physical behaviors and there is a vast amount of research from neurophysiology to molecular biology that supports Play Therapy as a valid therapeutic technique. 


Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, playful exploration becomes outdated. To achieve anything significant in life adults must work and forget the delights of play. However, as Dr. Stuart Brown, psychiatrist, leading expert in play research, and founder of The National Institute for Play explains, there is a large repository of research data from neurophysiology, developmental and cognitive psychology, to animal play behavior, and evolutionary and molecular biology – containing evidence that supports the value of play in adult lives (from Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, 2009).


Benefits of Play Therapy for Adults

In addition to Play Therapy with children, adults benefit from playful exploration in a therapeutic environment. Play optimizes learning, enhances relationships, and improves health and well-being. Adults engaged in a therapeutic alliance with a focus on play have an opportunity to choose from a variety of modalities such as movement (body play), sand play, dream play, nature play, social play, pretend (fantasy) play, creative play, storytelling, and vocal play. Play offers both children and adults life experience, freedom, and greater creativity. The number of organizations and experts in the field dedicated to play research and advocacy grows, demonstrating the importance of play for people of all ages.


~Content Provided by Mary Alice Long, PhD, http://playequalspeace.com


Resources Related to Play Therapy:

National Institute for Play


International Play Association


US Play Coalition


Therapist Resources


Last updated: 06-09-2015


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