Psychotherapy and Psychological Assessment
Phone: 973.734.0780

Play Therapy

‘Play Therapy is a window into a child’s world.’


What is Play Therapy?

Play Therapy is to children what talk therapy is to adults.  Play is how children communicate and express themselves.  Through Play Therapy children can process emotions related to various situations.  Unlike adults, children don’t have the verbal skills to express thoughts and feelings around disturbing events.  Play therapy allows the child the opportunity to work through and resolve a difficult issue.

When would a child need Play Therapy?

Sometimes a child may struggle with a life change such as a move, difficulties in school or with peers, parental divorce, a death, loss or trauma.  You might notice a change in the child’s behavior, perhaps an increase in aggression, or withdrawal, or a decrease in school performance or change in mood. This may be a time to seek treatment for your child.

Who can provide Play Therapy?

Play Therapy is different than playing with a child.  Janice Harris is trained in Play Therapy and has over 20 years of experience helping children and their families overcome various problems.  She works with children ranging in age from 3 years through adolescence.

What materials are used in Play Therapy?

The therapist provides different materials from which children can choose to express themselves and their issues.  Different materials are offered based on the age of the child and issue focused on in treatment.  The child can choose from a variety of toys, games, puppets, art supplies and play sets (i.e. doll house, school, hospital).  The therapist, through play, assists the child in communicating their thoughts and feelings.  For example, a child might use the doll house to explore feelings about her parents’ divorce.  Older children may play games (e.g. checkers, thinking-feeling game) which would allow them some emotional distance when sharing their feelings.  Recent research by PTUK (Play Therapy of the United Kingdom) suggests that 71% of children referred for Play Therapy show positive change.  This change not only helps the child but the entire family.  As the therapist understands the child’s feelings and needs, she can then share this information with the family.  This understanding decreases stress in the family and facilitates better communication.