National Play Therapy Week is February 1st through February 7th. Prairie Ridge Hospital recognizes the importance of play therapy to help children learn adaptive behaviors to overcome emotional and social skill deficits (Pedro-Carroll & Reddy, 2005).
According to the Association for Play Therapy, play therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process. This therapy is a structured, theoretically-based approach that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children (Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002; O’Connor & Schaefer, 1983).
Play therapy is a unique tool utilized to address cognitive, behavioral, and emotional challenges. Astra Garner, Director of Clinical Services and Community Outreach, leads the play therapy program at KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital.
“Play therapy is the vehicle that allows the therapist to speak the child’s language (play) to address complicated symptoms and social issues, that would otherwise face resistance or go unaddressed,” said Garner.
KVC Prairie Ridge utilizes several play therapy tools including sand trays, miniatures, puppets, doll houses and more to help children learn about themselves and their relationships with family and friends.
We encourage parents, family members and care givers to use play therapy at home with their children. Family members and care givers play an important role in children’s healing processes and the interaction during play therapy allows children and families to work together.