About half of HCWC’s child abuse victims are too young for traditional talk therapy. For these victims, HCWC employs play therapy as a way to communicate in an age-appropriate and natural way. In recent years, play therapy has gained support in the mental health field as being a developmentally appropriate and effective means of working with young children therapeutically.
In play therapy, play is the child’s language and toys serve as the child’s words through which they express and resolve what is causing them distress. In a typical session, a child enters a therapeutic playroom filled with numerous types of toys to provide a safe outlet to express and self-soothe. Traumatized children typically engage in play that relates to what they have experienced. They may overtly play out the trauma using puppets or dolls to re-create the scene in which they were injured. Children may also engage in play that relates to their current needs. Examples of needs-based play could be a child soothing or doctoring a baby doll or protecting a doll from “bad guys.”
This play serves not only to help a child re-enact his/her experience, but also to help the child make sense out of what happened. Play therapy allows a child to take control of a situation that he/she had no control over when it occurred. While playing, a therapist engages the child by making age-appropriate reflections of feelings expressed by the child.
Read more about play therapy at Roxanne’s House here.