Patterson Psych Group, PLLC 

Help for today, Hope for tomorrow

Dr. Ray also created a video for introducing play therapy to parents: 

Child-Centered Play Therapy

Child-centered play therapy is for children ages 3-12.

Play therapy is to children what counseling is to adults. Play therapy utilizes play, children's natural medium of expression, to help them express their feelings more easily through toys instead of words.

Association for Play Therapy (APT) defines play therapy 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 & achieve optimal growth & development."

In the textbook Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship (2nd ed.), Landreth (2002) defined child-centered play therapy:

"A dynamic interpersonal relationship between a child (or person of any age) and a therapist trained in play therapy procedures who provides selected play materials and facilitates the development of a safe relationship for the child (or person of any age) to fully express and explore self (feelings, thoughts, experiences, and behaviors) through play, the child's natural medium of communication, for optimal growth and development." (p. 16)

Explaining play therapy to children should be done in appropriate language for their developmental level. Dr. Dee Ray's Introduction to Play Therapy for Children video introduces play therapy to children:


Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005). 

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.

*Created by: Dee Ray, PhD, LPC-S, NCC, RPT-S, Professor-Counseling Program, Director-Child and Family Resource Clinic, University of North Texas