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Question: Is therapy just play?


From Ben – I’ve heard therapy with children can often just look like play. Is this true and if so, is it worth it? 


We’ve heard this many times ourselves as professionals working with younger children and you know what? Yes, there is truth to it and yes, it is worth it. Play is a general term that encompasses a range of things that kids can do such as sport, gross motor play, rough housing, fantasy play and sensory exploration. All of which are extremely important to how a child explores their world, trying new experiences to build skills, knowledge, and confidence. In a therapeutic setting the same is true. A child needs to feel safe, secure, connected and engaged to try things that they may avoid otherwise (this can usually be a reason the child has come to therapy in the first place – but not always). Using an interaction style that looks like some form of play is a great way of achieving this. I think we as therapists have a real obligation to explain things like this to families and show them how what we are doing relates to their real-life goals. We all also need to remember that play can look different for everyone and no one way of playing is ‘right’. Each child’s strengths and desires in play should be encouraged and respected. We should also give them an opportunity to experience additions to, or different types of play that they may like so that the child can make an informed decision about wanting or not wanting to do that more in their life. 

children group therapy