"Play therapy is to children what counseling is to adults. Play therapy utilises play, children's natural medium of expression, to help them express their feelings more easily through toys instead of words" (Gary Landreth)
Child Centered Play Therapy (CCPT; Landreth, 1991; 2002; 2012) is a developmentally responsive, play-based mental health intervention for young children ages 3 to 10 who are experiencing social, emotional, behavioral and relational disorders. CCPT utilises play, the natural language of children, and therapeutic relationship to provide a safe, consistent therapeutic environment in which a child can experience full acceptance, empathy, and understanding from the psychologist and process inner experiences and feelings through play and symbols. In CCPT, a child’s experience within the counseling relationship is the factor that is most healing and meaningful in creating lasting, positive change. The goal of CCPT is to unleash the child’s potential to move toward integration and self-enhancing ways of being. Child outcomes following CCPT include decreased symptomatic behaviors and improvement in overall functioning.
"Throughout their lives, most children go through difficult times, such as the divorce of their parents, trouble making friends, or adjusting to changes at school or home. Some children need more help than others to get through these times. If you or other adults in your child's life are concerned about your child's behaviour, play therapy can help. It is the most appropriate treatment for helping your child work through difficult times and helping you gain a better understanding of what your child is going through.
Play therapists are specifically trained to provide an environment of acceptance, empathy and understanding in the play therapy room. Play therapy is not the same thing as playing. Play therapy uses the child's natural tendency to "play out" their reactions to life situations, in the presence of a trained therapist, to help the child feel accepted and understood and gain a sense of control or understanding of difficult situations." (Centre for Play Therapy)
CCPT is usually delivered over a course of 16-20 weekly sessions of 45 minutes. Parent guidance also forms part of the therapeutic process.
It is important to note that CCPT is not a quick fix, but rather an investment into the well-being of a child.