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Why Play Therapy

Working with children in therapy is not the same as woking with adults.

When adults come into therapy, they come in with a brain that has a fully on-line frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is responsible for self management, decision making, abstract thought, managing attention, higher learning, and motivation.

We use play because it is developmentally appropriate for children.

Our brain develops from the "back" or "bottom." While the frontal lobe (at the top of the brain) does not fully develop until the early to mid 20's, the limbic system is fully on-line. Big emotions are held in the limbic system, along with the ability to connect, regulate, and process hard things. Because of this, when we work with children in therapy, we use play. As child ages into early adolescence, they still cannot process like an adult, even though they can talk like an adult. So it is important for the therapist to know the basic tenets of play therapy.

We use play because it is experiential.

Children need experience to learn. Play teaches children how to focus, deal with difficult things, self-soothe, be social, and how to emotionally regulate. It also teaches boundaries, responsibility, choice making, and develops self esteem. It does all this through the experience of play. This allows the child to explore behaviors and decide if the behaviors are working for them or not. If a child discovers a behavior is not working, they will choose to abandon it and replace it with a different behavior.

We use play because it is an advanced method of healing.

Play heals in several ways! First, it helps the brain create safety and connect. The brain cannot learn if it does not feel safe and connected. When children play, defenses go down, making it easier to learn (through experience). Second, play shapes the midbrain, which regulates sleep, plays a role in motivation, helps with alertness, and assists with motor control. This is important when working to manage hyperactive behaviors , increase focus, decrease aggression, and work through trauma.

We use play therapy because it is evidenced based!

The Association of Play Therapy conducts research to determine the effectiveness of therapy with children. There has been enough research completed to determine play therapy is effective and the best practice when working with children.

Our therapists at Tabonuco are trained in play therapy. Whether we use Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Child Centered Play Therapy (CCPT), or another theory, we have to use play because working with children in therapy is not the same process as working with adults.


For additional information on the effectiveness of play therapy, please visit APT.

Then contact us to set up an appointment.


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