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Published on May 10, 2011
Play therapy is a form of counseling designed ideally for a child from a developmental perspective. The feelings of a child are often inaccessible at a verbal level. Developmentally, a child lacks the cognitive and verbal skills to fully express what s/he feels.
Play, however, is the child's natural medium of communication—a symbolic language of self-expression. It is the way a child explores and orients him/herself to the actual world.
Given the opportunity in a safe environment with a professional trained in play therapy, a child will play out feelings and needs in a manner which is similar to talking for adults. Though the dynamics of expression are different for a child, the feelings (e.g., fear, anger, sadness) are similar to those of adults.
When viewed from this perspective, toys are used like words by the child and play is the child's language. In play therapy, the child is able to use toys to say what s/he cannot say, do things s/he would feel uncomfortable doing, and express feelings for which s/he might be reprimanded for verbalizing in other settings.