In 2009, the Association for Play Therapy designated Georgia State’s institute an “Approved Center of Play Therapy Education,” a gold seal of approval in the field. Read more about this award here.
Georgia State University President Mark P. Becker congratulates director of the GSU Play Therapy Training Institute, Lauren Wynne (left), and founder, JoAnna White, on the institute's national recognition.
Fish swim, birds fly, children play.
-Dr. Garry Landreth
Play is the natural language of children and is a metaphor, or symbolic expression, of what is going on in their lives. Play is to children what verbalization is to adults. Early childhood experts agree that play is essential and facilitates:
Erik Erikson, an expert in human growth and development, defines play as a situation in which a child can work through experiences by creating model situations and master reality through planning and experimentation. Play offers opportunities for self-expression, mastery, and growth in a way that fits the child’s developmental level.
Naturally, toys and other materials play role in the therapeutic process. If play is considered the language of children, then toys are their words. Children in play therapy are able to choose from an array of toys. They are given the power to determine what toys to use and how to use the toys most of the time. If a child decides to use a toy in a destructive manner, the play therapist will use limit-setting to help the child learn more effective and socially-appropriate ways to express himself or herself and develop self-control.
The relationship between a child and his or her play therapist is important to the therapeutic process and outcome as well. Child-centered play therapists follow Virginia Axline’s eight guiding principles in their interactions with child clients:
Parents are the most important adults in their child’s life. It makes sense for parents to be actively included in the therapeutic process of play therapy. Parents play a vital role in accurate assessment, effective treatment planning, and successful outcomes. Parent consultation creates opportunities for parents to gather information about their child’s functioning and learn new ways to help their child be successful at home and at school. At times, a play therapist invites the parent(s) to participate in Filial Therapy training. This training teaches parents how to use play therapy principles and skills to enhance the parent-child relationship. This training may be offered in individual or group formats. When play therapists train educators to use play therapy principles and skills within the teacher-student relationship, it is called Kinder Training.
Children benefit from play therapy in many ways. Research findings support the effectiveness of play therapy with an array of social, emotional, educational, and behavioral concerns including but not limited to:
Play therapy is also helpful to children experiencing difficult life situations such as divorce, grief, relocation, illness/hospitalization, natural disasters, and violence/abuse.
If you are a mental health or education professional interested in learning how to effectively use play therapy in your work with clients, please consider participating in one of our upcoming trainings. If you have other questions about play therapy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist you.