The Role of Play Therapy in Children’s Mental Health

February is typically linked to Valentine’s Day, love, and the Super Bowl. But there are many things that are celebrated in February. Two such events this month are Children’s Mental Health Week and Play Therapy Awareness Week. These are close to our hearts here at Treehouse Counseling as they are the pillars of our practice.

Children’s mental health is important to monitor and to address if issues develop. The sooner that children are given the tools to handle life’s challenges, the better they will function as those challenges become increasingly complicated. Children’s mental health work can range from building up coping skills to intense trauma work. But no matter the focus of treatment, the goal is to help the child function better emotionally. If you believe that children are our future, then the potential impact of treatment is that the future will be well-equipped to deal with whatever comes their way.

How do we achieve such goals? It is through play therapy techniques which include sand tray, drawing, arts & crafts, and imaginative play. It has been said that play is the language of children and we here at Treehouse Counseling listen to what they are saying through their play. Children, especially younger children, have difficulty talking through what is bothering them but will project that issue onto the play.

Play is also a non-threatening way for children to problem solve, create alternative endings, and explore different roles.  When engaging in play therapy with children, the goal is to see the world through the child’s eyes. This gives us insight into their world, their relationships, their culture, their hopes, and their fears. This month, we celebrate play therapy for how beneficial it is to our work with children and their mental health. We also recognize and celebrate the parents who identified the need for support for their children and reached out for services. A true act of love!

By Michelle A. Culver, LMFT