What is Play Therapy

Play enables a child, adolescent or an adult to break down feelings, emotions or experiences through their choice of play.

Play provides an opportunity for a child to release their feelings or emotions whilst feeling safe. As play gives them a sense of comfort that they can explore any big emotions or difficult experiences by bringing this into their play. The child is also in full control of their healing process as they have the choice of when they want to go deeper into this process.

Play Therapy enables a child to ‘play out’ their experiences or feelings by using toys and other playing mediums. This helps the child’s conscious and subconscious mind to break down any issues that they could be feeling or that they have experienced.
The child then learns and understands themselves and their feelings at a greater level which they have been in control for the full duration of their play.

Play Therapy gives a child the opportunity to develop their communication skills and to strengthen their independence within their sessions. Consequently, their communication and their independence will be a transferable skill which can be used in all aspects of their life.

My role in the play therapy room is to provide support and to guide your child during their healing process. The therapist doesn’t “fix” your child, we guide your child to “fix” themselves!

There are various reasons that a child would benefit from Play Therapy, some are:

  • Abuse – Physical, Emotional or Sexual
  • ADHD, Autism, Hyperactivity
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Bereavement and Grief
  • Bullying / Cyber Bullying
  • Divorce or Family Separation
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Friendship Issues
  • Nightmares
  • Self Esteem or Confidence Issues
  • Toileting Issues

Behaviours that play therapy can support

  • Anger/aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Attachment issues, i.e. struggles to leave parent
  • Communicational issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lack of concentration
  • Lack of self-esteem and confidence
  • Withdrawn behaviour or personality

The Statistics

In 2021 PTUK found that across 157,747 Play Therapy sessions, children chose to talk for 1/12 out of their full time in therapy. 11/12 times they chose to play.

77% to 84% of children receiving Play therapy delivered PTUK/PTI standards show a positive change.”
(The amount of change varies according to gender, age, condition, severity of the issue and country. APAC 2017)

12.6% of children and young people in Northern Ireland experience common mood disorders such as anxiety and depression – around 25% higher than in other UK nations (NI Youth Wellbeing Survey).

One in eight children and young people in Northern Ireland experienced emotional difficulties, one in ten had conduct problems and one in seven problems with hyperactivity. (NI Youth Wellbeing Survey).

“Play is a child’s natural medium for self expression” – Virginia Axline

Therapeutic Play gives a child or young person the opportunity to express their feelings or problems as this method of play has a therapeutic objective. Play can provide various benefits to a child or young person which include:

  • Fun
  • Freedom
  • Social interaction/ socialisation
  • Physical activity
  • Environmental cognitive stimulation
  • Creativity and problem solving
  • Self-discovery


(Source: Brown, F. (2014) Play and Playwork: 101 Stories of Children Playing.)

My Tool – Kit for the Play Therapy

In each session the following objects will be offered for your child to use to explore their feelings or experiences:

Creative Visualisation

Therapeutic Story Telling

Drama/ Role Play

Puppets and Masks

Sand Tray/ Water Tray

Art / Drawing


Dance and Movement

Join our Newsletter

Sign up today to receive our latest eBooks, newsletters and advice