In recent years a growing number of noted mental health professionals have observed that play is as important to human happiness and well being as love and work. Some of the greatest thinkers of all time, have reflected on why play is so fundamental in our lives. The following are some of the many benefits of play that have been described by play theorists.
Play is the child’s language and …
Play is a fun, enjoyable activity that elevates our spirits and brightens our outlook on life. It expands self-expression, self-knowledge, self-actualization and self-efficacy. Play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, connects us to people in a positive way, stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulates our emotions, and boosts our ego. In addition, play allows us to practice skills and roles needed for survival. Learning and development are best fostered through play.
Why Play in Therapy?
Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children. Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings. In play therapy, toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language. Through play, therapists may help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits.
What Is Play Therapy?
… toys are the child’s words!
Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.
How Does Play Therapy Work?
Play therapy allows trained mental health practitioners who specialize in play therapy, to assess and understand children’s play. Further, play therapy is utilized to help children cope with difficult emotions and find solutions to problems. Play therapy allows children to change the way they think about, feel toward, and resolve their concerns.
Who Benefits from Play Therapy?
Although everyone benefits, play therapy is especially appropriate for children ages 3 through 12 years old.
How Will Play Therapy Benefit A Child?
Play therapy helps children:
Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
Learn to experience and express emotion.
Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.
How Long Does Play Therapy Take?
Each play therapy session varies in length but usually last about 30 to 50 minutes. Sessions are usually held weekly. Research suggests that it takes an average of 20 play therapy sessions to resolve the problems of the typical child referred for treatment. Of course, some children may improve much faster while more serious or ongoing problems may take longer to resolve.
How May My Family Be Involved in Play Therapy?
Families play an important role in children’s healing processes. The interaction between children’s problems and their families is always complex. Sometimes children develop problems as a way of signaling that there is something wrong in the family. Other times the entire family becomes distressed because the child’s problems are so disruptive. In all cases, children and families heal faster when they work together.
What is Therapeutic Recreation?
Have you thought about the connection between health and recreation? Consider this: children cope better with being hospitalized when given a chance to play. People recovering from physical injuries or adapting to disabilities stay healthier longer when they are physically and socially active.
Recreation therapy is a treatment that helps children with cerebral palsy develop and expand physical and cognitive capabilities while participating in recreational activities. Though a child may participate in other therapies that specifically address physical function need, recreation therapy is specifically designed to allow children to participate in leisure pursuits by eliminating the roadblocks that impede the pursuit of sports, arts, crafts, games and other life-enhancing activities.
‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ mantra applies to recreation therapy. When children with impairment are presented with an obstacle to perform a life-enhancing activity, recreation therapists work to identify the interest level, capabilities, adaptive approaches, and in some cases modified processes required to complete the activity successfully.
What children do Recreational Therapists Serve?
Recreational Therapists may work with a wide range of individuals requiring health services including geriatric, mental health, addictions, general medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, developmental disabilities and pediatric children.
The Goals of Recreation Therapy include:
Determining a child’s capacity for recreational performance
Minimizing a child’s disability by teaching him or her adaptive strategies
Motivating a child to take part in activities with encouragement and support
Modifying process and procedures to enhance inclusion
Expanding a child’s ability to socialize and make friends
Enhancing a child’s self-concept and self-confidence
Helping a child develop interests
What are the benefits of Recreation Therapy?
Recreation therapy has numerous benefits for children with cerebral palsy – it can improve physical functionality, improve neurological connections associated with processing activities, and provide opportunities for inclusion. Children involved with recreation therapy benefit within both group or solitary environments. The time spent within activities of interest decreases opportunities for depression, loneliness and frustration. In fact, recreation therapy provides a greater sense of self-worth and accomplishment.
Another benefit that a child will enjoy is the ability to take part in activities with his or her family, neighborhood children, school mates and others with like interests.
Physical benefits of Recreation therapy include:
Improved physical fitness and health,athletic process,and coordination.
Psychological benefits of Recreation therapy include:
Acceptance of disability
Increased social skills and ability to manage stress and depression
Cognitive benefits of Recreation therapy include:
Increased analytical and decision-making skills, organization, and perception.
What happens during Recreational Therapy?
Parents are typically relieved to learn there are so many opportunities for their child to participate.
For a child – typically one with more severe physical impairment – to be included, an evaluation is made of the child’s capabilities, interests, temperament and adaptive needs by a therapist. Therapists consult with the child’s physical and occupational therapists to ascertain ability levels already achieved. Therapists also analyze the child’s support team, daily routines and social skills.