Toys are children’s words and play is their language
— Garry Landreth

Play Therapy provides a natural way for children to express their thoughts and feelings and to learn more about themselves and the world around them. Through play, children can communicate in ways that are appropriate to their development. The Association of Play Therapy defines it as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."

Play therapy allows trained mental health practitioners who specialize in play therapy, to assess and understand children's play. Further, play therapy is utilized to help children cope with difficult emotions and find solutions to problems (Moustakas, 1997; Reddy, Files-Hall, & Schaefer, 2005). Research of play therapy has found it effective for children with social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems.

Evidenced-based research has shown that play therapy helps children:

  • Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
  • Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
  • Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
  • Learn to experience and express emotion.
  • Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
  • Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
  • Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.
By confronting problems in the clinical Play Therapy setting, children find healthier solutions. Play therapy allows children to change the way they think about, feel toward, and resolve their concerns.
— Kaugars & Russ, 2001

Play Therapy is appropriate for varying ages of children and adolescents, but most research has been done with children ages 3 to 12. For more on the Evidence Based Statement of Play Therapy, please click here

Are you interested in talking with a clinician to see if play therapy could be the right fit for your child? Find out more about our registered play therapists at Gateway Wellness Associates by clicking on each name below:


Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.
— Fred Rogers