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Play therapy help kids hit by trauma


May 5, 2007: Play therapy is beneficial for children suffering from trauma, according to an expert in behavioural science.

For children exposed to trauma such as divorce, domestic violence, or neglect and abuse, play therapy offers a safe environment where their thoughts and feelings are accepted and validated without judgement.

Symbolic play is the natural way for kids to work through troubles. Till the time they develop abstract thinking and language, play is a child’s vehicle of expression.

Play has a fundamental role in the healthy development of childhood. It allows for fantasy and creative imagination in the child’s development and is a means to learn conflict resolution, problem solving, expression, regulation and containment of emotions as well as a way for kids to communicate with others.

According to the expert, play gives the children an outlet to figure out where they fit in the larger scheme of things – such as in the family and community.

Many a time, parents need to be taught how to respond to their child’s behaviors, which must not be judgemental but should be supportive.

Parents also need to be taught on the consistent and effective measures to discipline their kids. Another useful step is to involve parents in play with their children, which help the parent to show support and empathy for their children.

The effects of play on children take them through successive phases – when children play, they often present the problem first, then work through the conflict, and then find a resolution.

Acting out with the child in a drama helps give them mastery over their situation and feelings.

According to the expert, if a child has been exposed to trauma or abuse or is struggling to adapt to a life situation, it is better to attend to the particular situation as early as possible.

A child is by nature open, honest and highly accessible to therapy. As he grows into an adolescent and then an adult, his defence mechanisms become more entrenched and thus it becomes harder to access his natural capability for healing.




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